Bee Raves

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Science  09 Jan 2009:
Vol. 323, Issue 5911, pp. 187
DOI: 10.1126/science.323.5911.187c

Cocaine triggers reward pathways in the human brain and is toxic at high doses; it is postulated to have evolved as an insecticide that protects the coca plant. Barron et al. have tested the response of honey bees to cocaine and find suggestive evidence of a reward effect at low doses. By examining the honey bee dance—the means by which bees signal the availability of resources to their hive-mates—they found that dosing the bees with cocaine increased both the likelihood and rate of dance after foraging; furthermore, the bees exhibited behavior consistent with a withdrawal effect when the drug was withheld after chronic treatment. The authors conclude that responsiveness and signaling in the appropriate settings were increased by the treatment with cocaine, suggesting that the response to the drug may be similar in humans and bees. — LMZ

J. Exp. Biol. 212, 163 (2009).

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