A desire to understand the evolutionary underpinnings of this brain power led scientists to give octopuses ecstasy. Yes, ecstasy — molly, E, MDMA, the party drug, which in humans reduces fear and inhibition, induces feelings of empathy, distorts time and helps people dance to electronic music all night.

And under the influence of MDMA, the researchers report in a paper published Thursday in Current Biology, asocial octopuses seemed to become more social.

“Even though octopuses look like they come from outer space, they’re actually not that different from us,” said Gül Dölen, a neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine who led the study with Eric Edsinger, an octopus researcher at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole.