Brock, A. J., Sudwarts, A., Daggett, J. M., Parker, M. O., & Brennan, C. H. (2017). A fully automated computer based Skinner box for testing learning and memory in zebrafish. bioRxiv, 110478 [Preprint]. March 23, 2017.
Zebrafish are an important model species with unparalleled potential to advance understanding of the genetics and neurobiology of behaviour through genetic and pharmacological screening and mutant analysis. However, advances using this species have been limited by the lack of robust, standardised methodology and equipment suitable for assessing adult behaviour. Here we describe a simple, fully automated, computer based, operant system for measuring behaviour in juvenile and adult zebrafish and provide detailed protocols for appetitive and aversive assays to assess cognitive function in adult zebrafish. Applications include the study of cognition in zebrafish (and other similar sized fish species) and in zebrafish models of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, Huntington's disease, frontotemporal dementia), and characterisation of the role of select brain regions, neurotransmitter systems and genes in zebrafish. Further, the scalable nature of the system makes the protocols suitable for use in pharmacological and genetic screening programmes.
zebrafish; behaviour; translational neuroscience; neuropsychological tests; automation