17/01/08

Get drunk, get randy, fall down. Flies do it too.

How does alcohol affect male sexual performance? According to a new study, males consuming alcohol in a pub went through three distinct phases: “they became hyperactive (fast walking), lost motor control (infrequent movements and frequent falls during walking), and then were sedated (lying on their back)”. Other findings: getting all boozed up led to “enhanced sexual arousal toward females and decreased sexual performance.”

So what’s new, I hear you ask? The pub. This study wasn’t conducted down the King’s Head or at the local sports bar. It was in a FlyPub. and the males in question were Drosophila fruit flies. Another interesting finding: after getting drunk (by inhaling ethanol fumes in the FlyPub), male fruit flies started courting other males as well as females. In the paper, Hyun-Gwan Lee and colleagues put it like this: “A salient effect of ethanol is cognitive impairment, which may account for the disinhibited courtship of sexually aroused males under the influence of ethanol.”

Put less politely: getting drunk makes you stupid and randy, and that makes you more likely to try and get laid any way you can. (Leonard Cohen described it even less scientifically in his classic anthem to late-night desperation Closing Time). The study also suggests that the drunker flies get, the randier they get. You can see the lushes queuing up in the hope of getting some action in the right hand petri dish in this video.

The paper was published in (the wonderful, open access) Public Library of Science.

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This post was published on 17/01/08 in Good sex and bad, Men, women and others, Science.

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