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Short-term memory in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

Behavioural Brain Research
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2014.04.046
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Short-Term Memory
  • Zebrafish
  • Design


Abstract Learning and memory represent perhaps the most complex behavioral phenomena. Although their underlying mechanisms have been extensively analyzed, only a fraction of the potential molecular components have been identified. The zebrafish has been proposed as a screening tool with which mechanisms of complex brain functions may be systematically uncovered. However, as a relative newcomer in behavioral neuroscience, the zebrafish has not been well characterized for its cognitive and mnemonic features, thus learning and/or memory screens with adults have not been feasible. Here we study short-term memory of adult zebrafish. We show animated images of conspecifics (the stimulus) to the experimental subject during 1min intervals on ten occasions separated by different (2, 4, 8 or 16min long) inter-stimulus intervals (ISI), a between subject experimental design. We quantify the distance of the subject from the image presentation screen during each stimulus presentation interval, during each of the 1-min post-stimulus intervals immediately following the stimulus presentations and during each of the 1-min intervals furthest away from the last stimulus presentation interval and just before the next interval (pre-stimulus interval), respectively. Our results demonstrate significant retention of short-term memory even in the longest ISI group but suggest no acquisition of reference memory. Because in the employed paradigm both stimulus presentation and behavioral response quantification is computer automated, we argue that high-throughput screening for drugs or mutations that alter short-term memory performance of adult zebrafish is now becoming feasible.

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