A probe of the brain’s reward system looks at Drosophila sex (or lack thereof) and drinking
Avi Jacob/BIU microscopy unit
Moody red lighting in a lab is helping researchers figure out what fruit flies like best about sex.
The question has arisen as scientists try to tease out the neurobiological steps in how the brain’s natural reward system can get hijacked in alcoholism, says neuroscientist Galit Shohat-Ophir of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel.
Male fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) were genetically engineered to ejaculate when exposed to a red light. Ejaculation increased signs in the insects’ brains of a rewarding experience and decreased the lure of alcohol, researchers found. After several days in this red-light district, the flies tended to prefer a plain sugary beverage over one spiked with ethanol. Males not exposed to the red light went for the boozier drink, Shohat-Ophir and colleagues report April 19 in Current Biology.
Earlier lab research has shown