Tags: US | SCI | Sex | and | Booze

Barflies: Sex-deprived Male Flies Go for the Booze

Thursday, 15 Mar 2012 05:02 PM

 

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
|  A   A  
  Copy Shortlink

NEW YORK (AP) — Guys, when your sweetheart says "No thanks" to sex, do you knock back a few stiff drinks to feel better? Turns out fruit flies do pretty much the same thing.

That's the word from a new study that may explain why both species react that way.

In Friday's issue of the journal Science, researchers propose a biological explanation for why "Not tonight, dear" may lead to "Gimme another beer." If it proves true in people, it may help scientists find new medications to fight alcoholism.

In that case, we can thank thousands of frustrated flies.

One by one, these eager Lotharios were put into a container with a female that had just mated. So she was really, really not interested in doing it again anytime soon. She would run away. She would kick the male. She would stick out her egg-laying organ to hold him at bay.

The male flies went through three hour-long sessions of this every day for four days, enough rejection to discourage them from trying any more.

After that experience, rejected flies were put in vials and given a choice of regular food or alcohol-laced food. They consistently went for the alcohol more than did the male flies that had just mated. In fact, they evidently got plastered.

Some rejected males were moved to a different environment, where groups of guys mingled with receptive females. After the guys had sex, their yen for alcohol declined.

The researchers also paired thousands of other male flies with dead virgin females, so that they didn't experience rejection but didn't have sex either. They still hit the sauce.

What's going on here?

The researchers did other work that implicates a substance in the fly brain called NPF. They theorize that pleasurable activities like having sex boost the activity of brain circuits that use NPF, and that feels good. If a fly is denied sex, the system goes into deficit, driving the fly to seek other rewarding activities such as drinking alcohol.

"I think it's a pretty good bet that it will translate to humans," said Ulrike Heberlein of the University of California, San Francisco, who led the research. If so, "one can say we could now understand why a negative experience, such as a sexual rejection, could drive somebody to drink."

Further research into NPF brain circuitry could shed light on the biology of alcohol abuse and possibly point to treatments someday, said Troy Zars of the University of Missouri in Columbia, who didn't participate in the new work.

Fruit flies are a favorite lab animal in part because scientists have exquisite control over their biology. Here, the researchers were able to alter brain function to zero in on NPF's role.

Whatever the relevance to humans, the work already pays off when Heberlein meets people at parties.

"It makes for wonderful conversation," she said. "When you tell them this story, they just really can't believe it."

___

Online:

Video of flies: http://bit.ly/xN2w3e

Science: http://www.sciencemag.org

___

Malcolm Ritter can be followed at http://twitter.com/malcolmritter

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Share:
  Comment  |
   Contact Us  |
  Print  
  Copy Shortlink
Around the Web
Join the Newsmax Community
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.
>> Register to share your comments with the community.
>> Login if you are already a member.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
Email:
Retype Email:
Country
Zip Code:
 
Hot Topics
Follow Newsmax
Like us
on Facebook
Follow us
on Twitter
Add us
on Google Plus
Around the Web
You May Also Like

Genetic Mapping Triggers New Hope on Schizophrenia

Tuesday, 22 Jul 2014 07:28 AM

 . . .

Apple Asks Suppliers to Produce up to 80 Million Large-Screen IPhones

Monday, 21 Jul 2014 21:21 PM

Apple has asked suppliers to manufacture between 70 million and 80 million of its two upcoming large-screen iPhones by t . . .

Lake Ontario 'Shark' a Hoax to Promote Discovery Program

Thursday, 17 Jul 2014 12:58 PM

Lake Ontario's mysterious "shark" turned out to all be a hoax concocted by a film crew to create publicity around Discov . . .

Most Commented

Newsmax, Moneynews, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, NewsmaxWorld, NewsmaxHealth, are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

 
NEWSMAX.COM
America's News Page
©  Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved