Register for an account


Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.


Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Facing sexual rejection, male flies turn to booze

Not Exactly Rocket ScienceBy Ed YongMarch 16, 2012 6:00 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news


"A male fruitfly will try to court a female by nuzzling her genitals, tapping her abdomen and singing with his wings. If all that fails, he drowns his sorrows in booze." That's how my latest piece for Nature News starts. It's obviously a cute result, but there's some serious and intriguing science underlying it. These twin rewarding activities - sex and drinking - are linked by a chemical called neuropeptide F (NPF), which acts as a sort of currency of reward in the brain. The study suggests that NPF is part of a system that acts like a 'reward-thermostat'. If flies aren't getting rewarding feelings from sex, their levels of NPF fall, and this compels them to get their kicks elsewhere, such as in a boozy meal. Mammals also have a counterpart of NPF, known as NPY, which may play a similar role. It's depleted in the brains of people who attempt suicide or suffer from PTSD, and some clinical trials are testing it as a way of dealing with addictions or mood disorders. Go read the Nature News piece for more.

    3 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%


    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In