Date of Award

8-2013

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Psychology

Committee Chair

David Echevarria

Committee Chair Department

Psychology

Committee Member 2

Stan Kuczaj

Committee Member 2 Department

Psychology

Committee Member 3

Richard Mohn

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Abstract

Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are becoming increasingly utilized in behavioral studies as a model of human learning and memory. The results of a previous study by Colwill, Raymond, Ferreira, and Escudero (2005) indicated that this species is capable of discriminating between colors and learning to respond to an assigned hue at either arm of a T-maze, indicating a learned association between the neutral stimulus and reward. While this original study showed that this task was appropriate for use in this species, we proposed that it had the potential to provide more data on specifics of the learning process with amended methods. We developed and tested such a task, including a component to determine the influence of pharmacological agents on zebrafish performance in the task by examining the behavioral effects of three alcohol doses (0.0625, 0.75, and 1.5% EtOH). No significant results were found at the group level and we observed a high degree of variability among individuals. We concluded that a number of extraneous factors likely contributed to the overall poor performance of the fish, including net handling stress and innate color and side biases. Discussion includes the role of these factors, the importance of investigating individual differences in zebrafish, and suggested future directions for this field of research.

Included in

Psychology Commons

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