first_imgStay on target Animals, like us, exhibit varying personalities. And researchers at Linköping University in Sweden are using human drugs to find out why.In people, unbalanced brain chemicals can cause strange behavior. But is the same true for animals?“People with different levels of brain chemicals, such as serotonin and dopamine, often behave differently,” according to lead study author Robin Abbey-Lee, a postdoctoral researcher in the LiU Department of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (IFM).“However, we do not know if these chemicals can explain personality differences … in other species,” she continued, “and if the chemicals are causing the observed differences or if both the differences in behavior and chemical levels are caused by another underlying factor.”As part of their investigation, a team of scientists experimentally changed the levels of serotonin and dopamine in crickets, giving them human pharmaceuticals used to treat depression and Parkinson’s disease, respectively.“In this study we wanted to really address an important gap in our knowledge by experimentally altering these brain chemicals and seeing if we could get a resulting behavioral change,” senior study author Hanne Løvlie, an associate professor in the Department of Physics, Chemistry, and Biology (IFM), said in a statement.It worked.But only with serotonin levels which, when altered, made crickets less active and less aggressive. Changing the dopamine levels had no observable effect.“This suggest[s] that serotonin has a clearer underlying role in these behaviors,” Løvlie said.The results, published last week in the journal Scientific Reports, go a long way to improving scientists’ understanding of animal personalities.Perhaps even more importantly, though, they raise the issue of how increasing levels of pharmaceuticals leaking into nature through our waste water may affect wildlife.More on Geek.com:Cocaine is Crippling European EelsScientists Gave Octopi Molly and They Loved ItNY Lawmakers Propose Medical Marijuana for Man’s Best Friend Tenn. Police Warn of ‘Meth-Gators,’ Urge Users Not to Flush DrugsChild Finds $40,000 Worth of Meth Inside Lego Box last_img