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UTEP researchers: Flies under the influence act as model for alcohol abuse

Published On: Feb 18 2013 04:21:51 PM CST
EL PASO,Texas -

Fruit flies under the influence of alcohol exhibit similar characteristics to intoxicated humans.

As their blood alcohol content rises, they become more and more hyperactive, and even promiscuous. And just like humans, once they've had too much, they start to slow down and eventually pass out.Fruit flies are placed in 'The Fly Pub' - a chamber that slowly releases ethanol vapor - and are observed for six consecutive days. Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News ServiceFruit flies are placed in 'The Fly Pub' - a chamber that slowly releases ethanol vapor - and are observed for six consecutive days. Photo by J.R. Hernandez / UTEP News Service

"Alcohol in fruit flies induces all kinds of behavior that is very similar to humans," said Kyung-An Han, Ph.D., associate professor of biological sciences at The University of Texas at El Paso who has been studying the effects of alcohol on fruit flies for the past seven years. "Their behavior fits really nicely with how people define disinhibition - when people drink they do all kinds of things they wouldn't normally do, like become more aggressive, promiscuous and talkative."

In the case of humans, there are two types of disinhibitions that occur when one drinks: motor and cognitive. Aggressive acts or fighting and short tempers would be motor disinhibitions, while becoming more promiscuous, binge drinking or driving under the influence are cognitive effects.

Read the full UTEP article here, includes information on fruit fly research that could be used with PTSD patients.

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