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Scientists test cocaine on bees
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Australian scientists have undertaken research to discover the effect that cocaine has on bees.

Academics at Macquarie University applied a drop of cocaine solution to the backs of the insects and monitored their dance communication system, used to inform other bees where to find food and how good it tastes.

The research found that the bees used in the experiment responded more energetically than normal.

"What we're doing essentially is using cocaine as a tool to better understand how these tiny but quite complex brains function," said Dr Andrew Barron of Macquarie University.

"What we found was that the honey bee responds to cocaine in very similar ways as humans, so cocaine changes the way the bees evaluate."

Barron also noted that the insects began to show withdrawal symptoms when they were taken off the drug.

"We tested the bees' ability to learn and distinguish between two different scents," he said. "There was no impact on learning performance as long as the drug treatments were maintained, but if treatment ceased the bees had difficulty learning the task - similar to humans going into withdrawal."

(China Daily via Agencies January 9, 2009)

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