Zantiks AD is featured in bioRxiv

istock_000073381479_full.jpgA preprint in bioRxiv last month – A fully automated computer based Skinner box for testing learning and memory in zebrafish – describes detailed protocols for two automated tests of learning and memory in adult zebrafish using the Zantiks AD unit. This work, conducted by Alistair Brock out of Caroline Brennan’s lab, was designed along the lines of a rodent operant box and demonstrates comparable representative results from a Pavlovian fear conditioning task and a 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT).

Fear conditioning is widely used to assess the neurobiology learning and memory. In the Pavlovian fear conditioning assay, Brock et al, conditioned fish to avoid a colour stimulus (conditioned stimulus, CS) associated with a brief, mild electric shock. During the baseline phase, fish showed no preference for either of the stimuli. Following conditioning fish avoided the CS, spending only 10% of the test time in its vicinity, demonstrating that zebrafish learn to actively avoid a CS following only one session of training.

The 5-CSRTT is a standard task for measuring attention and impulse control in rodents and is useful in studying neuropsychiatric disorders, such as ADHD and schizophrenia. Fish trained to perform in the 5-CSRTT exceeded learning criterion (70% accuracy) within 20 days. By the final day of training, omissions (no response following stimulus presentation) had fallen to just 14%. By using Zantiks’s fully automated and scalable system, these results exceed the proportion of correct responses found in previous research (~80% here vs ~60% previously).

As the number of zebrafish publications increase, the need for standard, robust methodologies and repeatable results is increasing. Automated testing of zebrafish cognition and behaviour is advantageous as it saves both time and money, and allows for reliability and standardisation between and within labs. Using the Zantiks AD unit, researchers demonstrated two fast and robust protocols with applications in modelling psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases and characterisation of complex cognitive phenotypes.

Read the full paper online at bioarchiv 

Installation in Uppsala


Last week we visited the Department of Neuroscience, Physiology; Behavioral neuroendocrinology in Uppsala  to install 4 Zantiks AD systems which will be used for operant conditioning and tracking studies on zebrafish. Professor Svante Winberg is excited for his team to start work using the Zantiks units: “It will open up new possibilities: we haven’t been studying learning before and it will speed up other studies that we have been doing.”

The Inflamed Brain & BNA 2017

We will be at two conferences over the next two months. On 21 March we take part in the Cambridge Neuroscience Seminar 2017 – The Inflamed Brain at Robinson College, Cambridge. We then attend the BNA2017 Festival of Neuroscience  from 10-12 April at the ICC, Birmingham. The Zantiks AD can now be used for operant conditioning in mice, and we will be available to talk about how Zantiks equipment works with this and a variety of other model organisms. Come and meet us in Cambridge or at the BNA, the team attending both conferences will be Dr Bill Budenberg, Dr Jenny Daggett and Kate Price Thomas.

See the full list of 2017 Conferences that Zantiks is attending.

Neuroscience 2016

We will soon be arriving in San Diego, and the team of Bill , Judit and Steven look forward to meeting you on the stand 107A! We will be available to talk to you about how the Zantiks equipment will be able to help you run behaviour experiments.

As a short preview of the opportunities I leave you with a couple of videos to watch. Here we have 4 fish swimming over green and blue backgrounds in the Zantiks AD system – this records the baseline behaviour.

The Zantiks AD system then repeatedly applied a small electric shock across the tank when the entire background was blue.

And we then tracked the fish:

Visual inspection shows the fish have learnt to avoid swimming over blue!

Thanks to Caroline Brennan’s lab at QMUL, and in particular Ari Sudwarts 

Please also try and fit in the following posters:

352.22 / DP08 – A conditioned place preference forward genetic screen in zebrafish identifies a novel locus affecting nicotine preference in fish and smoking behavior in humans.

229.07. Zebrafish as a model for translational neurobiology: implications for drug discovery

550.17. The use of zebrafish to identify genes affecting working memory and age-related cognitive decline.