In DepthANIMAL RESEARCH

Humane studies of octopuses get a boost

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Science  06 Apr 2018:
Vol. 360, Issue 6384, pp. 14-15
DOI: 10.1126/science.360.6384.14

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Summary

Because of their complex brains, cephalopods enjoy the same protections as vertebrate animals in laboratory experiments in the European Union, New Zealand, and some Australian states. As a result, researchers have to use anesthesia in cephalopod studies that can cause pain. Most use either ethanol or magnesium chloride for this purpose because they immobilize cephalopods quickly and the animals soon recover without lasting effects. But until now it was unclear whether these compounds actually take away pain or just paralyze the animals. Now, a new study in three species suggests that both ethanol and magnesium chloride suppress pain signals in cephalopods, reassuring researchers they are compliant with the law and treating their subjects humanely.

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