Monday, June 18, 2007

Ecstasy Influence Scrutinized

Australian neuropharmacologist Iain McGregor has found evidence that the snuggling behavior that results from the use of the prohibited drug Ecstasy is caused by an increase in the brain hormone oxytocin, the brain's "love potion," which is produced during nursing or orgasm. While earlier research has already shown that Ecstasy use encourages the production of this drug, it wasn't sure if the drug penetrated the blood-brain barrier. McGregor gave rats Ecstasy and saw that oxytocin was released from the hypothalamus and the rats snuggled and became lovey-dovey. Then he gave them an oxytocin blocker, and the amorous behavior all but disappeared. Pictured above are rat brain cells without oxytocin (left), and with it (right).

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