Let's find out, neuroscientists Gul Dolen of Johns Hopkins University and Eric Edsinger of the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, said.
And find out they did:
The researchers knew from previous tests that an octopus would normally stay far, far away from a second octopus that was confined to a small cage inside the first one's tank. But an octopus on MDMA would get up-close and personal with the new neighbor.
"They spent significantly more time in the side of the tank, the chamber, that had the other octopus in it," says Dolen.
What's more, without the drug, any octopus that approached the stranger at all would remain very reserved, perhaps only reaching out one arm to tentatively touch the other animal's cage.
"After MDMA, they were essentially hugging," says Dolen, who explains that the octopuses were "really just much more relaxed in posture, and using a lot more of their body to interact with the other octopus."
Nell Greenfieldboyce of NPR has the story.
Photo: Tom Kleindinst/Marine Biological Laboratory