Male fruit flies enjoy orgasms more than alcohol – and Israeli researchers who tested the insects’ addiction to pleasure hope to apply their discovery to controlling human substance abuse.
Scientists from Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv exposed the flies to a red light that activated a protein, corazonim (CRZ), in the abdomen that triggers ejaculation.
Galit Shohat-Ophir, who headed the team, said they then tested how repeated ejaculation affected the flies’ desires for other pleasures, such as alcohol-spiked liquid.
Flies that orgasmed, as opposed to a control group that had not been stimulated, shunned the alcohol, preferring to congregate in the “red light district” because “it feels good” there, said Shir Zer Krispil, who led the study.
The scientists, whose research was published in the journal Current Biology, surmised that substance abuse in humans could be moderated by other rewards – not necessarily of a sexual nature – that are naturally available, such as social interaction or sports.
“In experiences where there is high reward level by natural reward – alcohol as a drug reward is not valuable,” Shohat-Ophir said.