Accessing learning in the adult zebrafish with a novel associative learning task

David Joseph Jouandot II, University of Southern Mississippi

Abstract

The zebrafish ( Danio rerio ) is accepted in the developmental and genomic communities as a model organism. However, the capacity for the zebrafish as a behavioral model has yet to be fully acknowledged. The research presented provides evidence validating the novel task, aids in gaining a better understanding of the learning processes, and identifies individual differences. The novel associative learning task differs from any present well established behavioral model and lends itself to future development. The task provides the zebrafish community with a high output behavioral task which is readily replicated and allows one researcher to test between eight and ten fish over a period of four weeks with a total of sixteen days of actual testing. The sixteen day period consists of all three phases of testing: habitation, training, and discrimination trials. The future growth of behavioral research in zebrafish relies on the research community to develop sophisticated behavioral models for assessing the cognitive function. Behavioral models found in the rodent and avian literature can be used as a blue print to realize the full potential of the zebrafish as a behavioral model.