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This Is a Spider's Brain on Drugs

Stashed in: Hugs!, Drugs!, Maslow!, Brain, nature!

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Witt honed his experiments over the years. He exclusively used the zilla x-notata, a garden spider species that spins orb webs; he kept them on a natural diet -- one that provided the spiders with sufficient energy, but was also sparse enough to force them to build a new web each night. He also only used female spiders, because males are half the size, eat less, and don’t build webs as often. In subsequent experiments, he added other drugs into the mix -- chiefly LSD and caffeine. Each drug produced its own distinctive aberration.

With a 10 µg dose of caffeine, for instance, a spider would build its web much smaller, and the radii (circular threads) would be incredibly uneven and disorganized. At a higher dose (100 µg, pictured below), the spider’s ability to craft a web would essentially go to shit:


So caffeine is bad for us?

If it is we don't care!!!!!!!


Some things are worth wrecking our webs for!!

Witt found that nearly every drug yielded the same effects, in slightly varying degrees of non-functionality. Spiders dosed with sleeping drugs became “very drowsy,” skipped spinning the longest, most challenging radial threads (those on the outer corners of the frame), and left huge gaps in their webs; Benzedrine caused the spiders to spin a spiral “that zig-zagged like an unsteady walker” and induced the inability to locate precise spots within the web; marijuana made the insects omit altogether the inner part of the web; scopolamine, which has hallucinogenic effects in humans, destroyed the spiders’ sense of direction altogether.



“When a spider’s central nervous system is drugged,” wrote Witt, the insect faltered “as a man intoxicated by alcohol weaves an erratic course down the street.” Only one drug was an exception to this: spiders administered small doses of LSD actually constructed “more orderly” webs (they didn’t, however, fare as well on high doses, as pictured above).

Is the analog to humans fair? They have no complex brain functions like we do!

The benzedrine web *is* wobbly like a drunkard's walk....

That spider has been listening to REM!

the lsd one is perfect?

the marijuana one is unfinished!

the peyote one is a mess... that looks like a bad trip.  poor spidey!

but still, caffeine seems to be the worst.

It's interesting how good the LSD one is.

I do feel bad for the peyote spider but maybe it's like the marijuana spider -- didn't care.

Why is caffeine the worst???

weird, because this morning i was like, "coffffffeeeeeeeeeeee...."

Maybe that's indicative of how much the brain craves caffeine?

the brain craves every crutch you can give it!

Maslow's hierarchy of need, revised:  Hugs then coffee!

awww... hugs are the very base of the pyramid!  yes!


oh "hugs" wink wink.

Hugs are at the base of the pyramid. "Hugs" are higher up.

i have to illustrate our own hierarchy of needs!!

that's hilarious!

Wifi might be the most basic need of them all!

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