sciencehabit writes: Some fruit fly larvae need a little extra buzz with their lessons. In a new study, reported last week in Current Biology, researchers fed the larvae of fruit flies alcohol-spiked food and then tested their ability to learn to avoid an unpleasant stimulus. After consuming an amount of alcohol that would be mildly intoxicating to humans (equivalent to a 0.05 to 0.08 blood alcohol concentration) the larvae were less apt at avoiding an attractive odor that had been paired with an unpleasant heat shock than their sober counterparts—indicating that alcohol initially impaired learning. However, after a 6-day drinking binge, those same larvae adapted and were able to learn just as well as the non-alcoholics—and even performed worse when the alcohol was taken away. Once they were allowed to drink again, their performance returned to normal. Researchers say that the findings, the first evidence that invertebrate learning and memory can become dependent on alcohol, also demonstrate that alcohol directly affects cells of the nervous system.
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