Zebrafish has been gaining increasing amount of interest in behavioral neuroscience as this species may represent a good compromise between system complexity and practical simplicity. Particularly successful have been those studies that utilized zebrafish as a screening tool. Given the complexity of the mechanisms of learning, for example, forward genetic screens with zebrafish could potentially reveal previously unknown genes and molecular pathways that subserve this function. These screens, however, require appropriate phenotypical (e.g. behavioral) paradigms. A step in this direction is the characterization of learning abilities of zebrafish. Here we employ two classical learning tasks in a plus maze. In the first, zebrafish are required to associate a visible cue with food reward irrespective of the location of this pairing. In the second, zebrafish are required to associate the spatial location of food reward irrespective of intra-maze cues. Our results demonstrate that zebrafish perform well in both tasks and show significant acquisition of the association between cue and reward as well as between location and reward. We conclude that zebrafish, similarly to classical laboratory rodents, may have utility in the biological analysis of simple as well as complex forms of associative learning.
associative learning; Danio; plus maze; relational learning; spatial learning; zebrafish
The establishment and maturation of appropriate synaptic connections is crucial in the developmental of neuronal circuits. Cellular adhesion is believed to play a central role in this process. Neuroligins are neuronal cell adhesion molecules that are hypothesized to act in the initial formation and maturation of synaptic connections. In order to establish the zebrafish as a model to investigate the in vivo role of Neuroligin proteins in nervous system development, we identified the zebrafish orthologs of neuroligin family members and characterized their expression. Zebrafish possess seven neuroligin genes. Synteny analysis and sequence comparisons show that NLGN2, NLGN3, and NLGN4X are duplicated in zebrafish, but NLGN1 has a single zebrafish ortholog. All seven zebrafish neuroligins are expressed in complex patterns in the developing nervous system and in the adult brain. The spatial and temporal expression patterns of these genes suggest that they occupy a role in nervous system development and maintenance.
nlgn; NL; Nlg; cell adhesion; synapse; central nervous system
The zebrafish is gaining popularity in behavioral neuroscience perhaps because of a promise of efficient large scale mutagenesis and drug screens that could identify a substantial number of yet undiscovered molecular players involved in complex traits. Learning and memory are complex functions of the brain and the analysis of their mechanisms may benefit from such large scale zebrafish screens. One bottleneck in this research is the paucity of appropriate behavioral screening paradigms, which may be due to the relatively uncharacterized nature of the behavior of this species. Here we show that zebrafish exhibit good learning performance in a task adapted from the mammalian literature, a plus maze in which zebrafish are required to associate a neutral visual stimulus with the presence of conspecifics, the rewarding unconditioned stimulus. Furthermore, we show that MK-801, a non-competitive NMDA-R antagonist, impairs memory performance in this maze when administered right after training or just before recall but not when given before training at a dose that does not impair motor function, perception or motivation. These results suggest that the plus maze associative learning paradigm has face and construct validity and that zebrafish may become an appropriate and translationally relevant study species for the analysis of the mechanisms of vertebrate, including mammalian, learning and memory.
learning and memory; acquisition; consolidation; recall; visual discrimination; NMDA-R; MK-801 dizocilpine; zebrafish
Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory skin disease unique to humans. In this issue of the JCI, 2 studies of very different mouse models of psoriasis both report that macrophages play a key role in inducing psoriasis-like skin disease. Psoriasis is clearly a polygenic, inherited disease of uncontrolled cutaneous inflammation. The debate that currently rages in the field is whether psoriasis is a disease of autoreactive T cells or whether it reflects an intrinsic defect within the skin — or both. However, these questions have proven difficult to dissect using molecular genetic tools. In the current studies, the authors have used 2 different animal models to address the role of macrophages in disease pathogenesis: Wang et al. use a mouse model in which inflammation is T cell dependent, whereas the model used by Stratis et al. is T cell independent (see the related articles beginning on pages 2105 and 2094, respectively). Strikingly, both groups report an important contribution by macrophages, implying that macrophages can contribute to both epithelial-based and T cell–mediated pathways of inflammation.
Zebrafish has been gaining popularity in behavioral genetics and behavioral neuroscience as this species offers an excellent compromise between system complexity and practical simplicity for mechanistic analyses of brain and behavior function. Recently, a number of studies started to investigate methods with which fear responses may be induced reliably in zebrafish. The ultimate goal of these studies has been to develop zebrafish models of pathological processes and to investigate the mechanisms of fear and to eventually translate the findings to the human clinic. Previously, animated image of a sympatric predator of zebrafish was shown to induce fear responses. Here we expand on this recently gained knowledge and investigate whether other moving images may induce more robust fear responses. The images investigated include the original sympatric predator, the Indian leaf fish, another sympatric predator, the needle fish, a bird silhouette moved on the side or above the tank, an expanding dot mimicking rapid approach of an object shown on the side and from above the tank, as well as non-fear inducing images including a single and a group of zebrafish. Our results indicate that although the sympatric predators do induce some fear responses, the other images, particularly the expanding dot but also the bird silhouette shown from above are more effective. The results also reveal a stimulus dependent motor pattern response repertoire of zebrafish demonstrating that perhaps univariate quantification methods may not be appropriate for uncovering the complexity of fear or anxiety related phenotypical changes in this species.
anti-predatory behavior; anxiety; fear; zebrafish
The zebrafish model is rapidly gaining prominence in the study of development, hematopoiesis, and disease. The zebrafish provides distinct advantages over other vertebrate models during early embryonic development by producing transparent, externally fertilized embryos. Embryonic zebrafish are easily visualized and manipulated through microinjection, chemical treatment, and mutagenesis. These procedures have contributed to large-scale chemical, suppressor, and genetic screens to identify hematopoietic gene mutations. Genomic conservation and local synteny between the human and zebrafish genomes make genome-scale and epigenetic analysis of these mutations (by microarray, chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing, and RNA sequencing procedures) powerful methods for translational research and medical discovery. In addition, large-scale screening techniques have resulted in the identification of several small molecules capable of rescuing hematopoietic defects and inhibiting disease. Here, we discuss the contributions of the zebrafish model to the understanding of hematopoiesis, hematopoietic stem cell development, and disease-related discovery. We also highlight the recent discovery of small molecules with clinical promise, such as dimethyl prostaglandin E2, 3F8, and thiazole-carboxamide 10A.
Chemical screen, disease; fate mapping; hematopoiesis; HSCs; morpholino; mutagenesis; suppressor screen; transplantation; zebrafish
Mapping the detailed connectivity patterns (connectomes) of neural circuits is a central goal of neuroscience. The best quantitative approach to analyzing connectome data is still unclear but graph theory has been used with success. We present a graph theoretical model of the posterior lateral line sensorimotor pathway in zebrafish. The model includes 2,616 neurons and 167,114 synaptic connections. Model neurons represent known cell types in zebrafish larvae, and connections were set stochastically following rules based on biological literature. Thus, our model is a uniquely detailed computational representation of a vertebrate connectome. The connectome has low overall connection density, with 2.45% of all possible connections, a value within the physiological range. We used graph theoretical tools to compare the zebrafish connectome graph to small-world, random and structured random graphs of the same size. For each type of graph, 100 randomly generated instantiations were considered. Degree distribution (the number of connections per neuron) varied more in the zebrafish graph than in same size graphs with less biological detail. There was high local clustering and a short average path length between nodes, implying a small-world structure similar to other neural connectomes and complex networks. The graph was found not to be scale-free, in agreement with some other neural connectomes. An experimental lesion was performed that targeted three model brain neurons, including the Mauthner neuron, known to control fast escape turns. The lesion decreased the number of short paths between sensory and motor neurons analogous to the behavioral effects of the same lesion in zebrafish. This model is expandable and can be used to organize and interpret a growing database of information on the zebrafish connectome.
Characterizing connectivity in the spinal cord of zebrafish embryos is not only prerequisite to understanding the development of locomotion, but is also necessary for maximizing the potential of genetic studies of circuit formation in this model system. During their first day of development, zebrafish embryos show two simple motor behaviors. First, they coil their trunks spontaneously, and a few hours later they start responding to touch with contralateral coils. These behaviors are contemporaneous until spontaneous coils become infrequent by 30 h. Glutamatergic neurons are distributed throughout the embryonic spinal cord, but their contribution to these early motor behaviors in immature zebrafish is still unclear. We demonstrate that the kinetics of spontaneous coiling and touch-evoked responses show distinct developmental time courses and that the touch response is dependent on AMPA-type glutamate receptor activation. Transection experiments suggest that the circuits required for touch-evoked responses are confined to the spinal cord and that only the most rostral part of the spinal cord is sufficient for triggering the full response. This rostral sensory connection is presumably established via CoPA interneurons, as they project to the rostral spinal cord. Electrophysiological analysis demonstrates that these neurons receive short latency AMPA-type glutamatergic inputs in response to ipsilateral tactile stimuli. We conclude that touch responses in early embryonic zebrafish arise only after glutamatergic synapses connect sensory neurons and interneurons to the contralateral motor network via a rostral loop. This helps define an elementary circuit that is modified by the addition of sensory inputs, resulting in behavioral transformation.
neurotransmitter; synapse; circuit; reflex; glutamate receptor
The visual system converts the distribution and wavelengths of photons entering the eye into patterns of neuronal activity, which then drive motor and endocrine behavioral responses. The gene products important for visual processing by a living and behaving vertebrate animal have not been identified in an unbiased fashion. Likewise, the genes that affect development of the nervous system to shape visual function later in life are largely unknown. Here we have set out to close this gap in our understanding by using a forward genetic approach in zebrafish. Moving stimuli evoke two innate reflexes in zebrafish larvae, the optomotor and the optokinetic response, providing two rapid and quantitative tests to assess visual function in wild-type (WT) and mutant animals. These behavioral assays were used in a high-throughput screen, encompassing over half a million fish. In almost 2,000 F2 families mutagenized with ethylnitrosourea, we discovered 53 recessive mutations in 41 genes. These new mutations have generated a broad spectrum of phenotypes, which vary in specificity and severity, but can be placed into only a handful of classes. Developmental phenotypes include complete absence or abnormal morphogenesis of photoreceptors, and deficits in ganglion cell differentiation or axon targeting. Other mutations evidently leave neuronal circuits intact, but disrupt phototransduction, light adaptation, or behavior-specific responses. Almost all of the mutants are morphologically indistinguishable from WT, and many survive to adulthood. Genetic linkage mapping and initial molecular analyses show that our approach was effective in identifying genes with functions specific to the visual system. This collection of zebrafish behavioral mutants provides a novel resource for the study of normal vision and its genetic disorders.
While many genes have previously been implicated in the development and function of the vertebrate central nervous system, no systematic attempt has been made to build a comprehensive catalog of genes important for its behavioral output. Motion evokes two visual reflexes in zebrafish larvae, the optomotor and the optokinetic response. After mutagenesis with ethylnitrosourea and inbreeding over two generations, the authors of this study searched for point mutations disrupting either, or both, of these innate responses. In almost 2,000 F2 families, they discovered 53 recessive mutations in 41 genetic loci. Developmental phenotypes included abnormal differentiation or absence of photoreceptors, and deficits in retinal ganglion cell differentiation or axon targeting. Physiological phenotypes include disruptions of phototransduction, light adaptation, and behavior-specific responses. Most of the mutants are morphologically indistinguishable from wild type, and many survive to adulthood. Genetic linkage mapping and initial molecular analyses revealed that the authors' approach identified genes with functions specific to the visual system. This collection of zebrafish behavioral mutants provides a novel resource for studying the genetic architecture of the vertebrate central nervous system.
Zebrafish (zebra danio) are becoming increasingly popular in behavioral neuroscience and behavior genetics. This small vertebrate may be utilized in modeling human brain disorders. One of the major neuropsychiatric conditions still not well understood is abnormally increased fear and anxiety. Zebrafish may be an appropriate organism with which these human diseases can be modeled and their biological mechanisms investigated. Predator induced anxiety paradigms have been suggested as useful methods in translational research. Shoaling fish, such as zebrafish, are known to respond to alarm substances with antipredatory or alarm reactions. However, these responses are not well characterized in zebrafish. In the current paper, we investigate the behavioral responses of zebrafish elicited by its alarm substance. Using observation-based as well as video-tracking aided behavior quantification methods we demonstrate significant alarm substance-induced behavioral changes that are independent of the presence of a predatory fish stimulus. The results suggest that, once refined, the use of alarm substance with zebrafish will allow the development of high throughput behavioral paradigms for drug and mutation screening aimed at the analysis of the biological mechanisms of fear in vertebrates.
Alarm substance; Antipredatory behavior; Anxiety; Danio rerio; Fear; Zebrafish; Shoaling
The teleost fish Danio rerio (zebrafish) has a remarkable ability to generate newborn neurons in its brain at adult stages of its lifespan-a process called adult neurogenesis. This ability relies on proliferating ventricular progenitors and is in striking contrast to mammalian brains that have rather restricted capacity for adult neurogenesis. Therefore, investigating the zebrafish brain can help not only to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of widespread adult neurogenesis in a vertebrate species, but also to design therapies in humans with what we learn from this teleost. Yet, understanding the cellular behavior and molecular programs underlying different biological processes in the adult zebrafish brain requires techniques that allow manipulation of gene function. As a complementary method to the currently used misexpression techniques in zebrafish, such as transgenic approaches or electroporation-based delivery of DNA, we devised a cerebroventricular microinjection (CVMI)-assisted knockdown protocol that relies on vivo morpholino oligonucleotides, which do not require electroporation for cellular uptake. This rapid method allows uniform and efficient knockdown of genes in the ventricular cells of the zebrafish brain, which contain the neurogenic progenitors. We also provide data on the use of CVMI for growth factor administration to the brain – in our case FGF8, which modulates the proliferation rate of the ventricular cells. In this paper, we describe the CVMI method and discuss its potential uses in zebrafish.
The circadian clock and homeostatic processes are fundamental mechanisms that regulate sleep. Surprisingly, despite decades of research, we still do not know why we sleep. Intriguing hypotheses suggest that sleep regulates synaptic plasticity and consequently has a beneficial role in learning and memory. However, direct evidence is still limited and the molecular regulatory mechanisms remain unclear. The zebrafish provides a powerful vertebrate model system that enables simple genetic manipulation, imaging of neuronal circuits and synapses in living animals, and the monitoring of behavioral performance during day and night. Thus, the zebrafish has become an attractive model to study circadian and homeostatic processes that regulate sleep. Zebrafish clock- and sleep-related genes have been cloned, neuronal circuits that exhibit circadian rhythms of activity and synaptic plasticity have been studied, and rhythmic behavioral outputs have been characterized. Integration of this data could lead to a better understanding of sleep regulation. Here, we review the progress of circadian clock and sleep studies in zebrafish with special emphasis on the genetic and neuroendocrine mechanisms that regulate rhythms of melatonin secretion, structural synaptic plasticity, locomotor activity and sleep.
zebrafish; circadian rhythms; synaptic plasticity; circadian clock; sleep; hypocretin; orexin; melatonin
Glycine is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the spinal cord and brainstem. Recently, in vivo analysis of glycinergic synaptic transmission has been pursued in zebrafish using molecular genetics. An ENU mutagenesis screen identified two behavioral mutants that are defective in glycinergic synaptic transmission. Zebrafish bandoneon (beo) mutants have a defect in glrbb, one of the duplicated glycine receptor (GlyR) β subunit genes. These mutants exhibit a loss of glycinergic synaptic transmission due to a lack of synaptic aggregation of GlyRs. Due to the consequent loss of reciprocal inhibition of motor circuits between the two sides of the spinal cord, motor neurons activate simultaneously on both sides resulting in bilateral contraction of axial muscles of beo mutants, eliciting the so-called ‘accordion’ phenotype. Similar defects in GlyR subunit genes have been observed in several mammals and are the basis for human hyperekplexia/startle disease. By contrast, zebrafish shocked (sho) mutants have a defect in slc6a9, encoding GlyT1, a glycine transporter that is expressed by astroglial cells surrounding the glycinergic synapse in the hindbrain and spinal cord. GlyT1 mediates rapid uptake of glycine from the synaptic cleft, terminating synaptic transmission. In zebrafish sho mutants, there appears to be elevated extracellular glycine resulting in persistent inhibition of postsynaptic neurons and subsequent reduced motility, causing the ‘twitch-once’ phenotype. We review current knowledge regarding zebrafish ‘accordion’ and ‘twitch-once’ mutants, including beo and sho, and report the identification of a new α2 subunit that revises the phylogeny of zebrafish GlyRs.
glycine; synapse; receptor; transporter; zebrafish; behavior; motility
The zebrafish may represent an excellent compromise between system complexity and practical simplicity for behavioral brain research. It may be particularly appropriate for large scale screening studies whose aim is to identify mutants with altered phenotypes or novel compounds with particular efficacy. For example, the zebrafish may have utility in the analysis of the biological mechanisms of learning and memory. Although learning and memory have been extensively studied and hundreds of underlying molecular mechanisms have been identified, this number may represent only the fraction of genes involved in these complex brain functions. Thus large scale mutagenesis screens may have utility. In order for such screens to succeed, appropriate screening paradigms must be developed. The first step in this research is the characterization of learning and memory capabilities of zebrafish and the development of automatable tasks. Here we show that zebrafish is capable of latent learning, i.e. can acquire memory of their environment after being allowed to explore it. For example, we found experimental zebrafish that experienced an open left tunnel or an open right tunnel of a maze during the unrewarded exploration phase of the test to show the appropriate side bias during a probe trial when they had to swim to a group of conspecifics (the reward). Given that exploration of the maze does not require the presence of the experimenter and the probe trial, during which the subjects are video-recorded and their memory is tested, is short, we argue that the paradigm has utility in high throughput screening.
exploratory behavior; forward genetics; latent learning; high throughput screening; zebrafish; zebra danio
Neurons and glia are functionally organized into circuits and higher-order structures via synaptic connectivity, well-orchestrated molecular signaling, and activity-dependent refinement. Such organization allows the precise information processing required for complex behaviors. Disruption of nervous systems by genetic deficiency or events such as trauma or environmental exposure may produce a diseased state in which certain aspects of inter-neuron signaling are impaired. Optical imaging techniques allow the direct visualization of individual neurons in a circuit environment. Imaging probes specific for given biomolecules may help elucidate their contribution to proper circuit function. Genetically encoded sensors can visualize trafficking of particular molecules in defined neuronal populations, non-invasively in intact brain or reduced preparations. Sensor analysis in healthy and diseased brains may reveal important differences and shed light on the development and progression of nervous system disorders. We review the field of genetically encoded sensors for molecules and cellular events, and their potential applicability to the study of nervous system disease.
Zebrafish, one of the preferred study species of geneticists, is gaining increasing popularity in behavioral neuroscience. This small and prolific species may be an excellent tool with which the biological mechanisms of vertebrate brain function and behavior are investigated. Zebrafish has been proposed as a model organism in the analysis of fear responses and human anxiety disorders. Species-specific cues signaling the presence of predators have been successfully utilized in such research. Zebrafish has been shown to respond to its natural alarm substance with species-typical fear reactions. However, the extraction of this alarm substance and ascertaining its consistent dosing has been problematic. A synthetic substance with a known chemical identity and molecular weight would allow precise dosing and experimental control. Previously, the chemical component, hypoxanthine 3-N-oxide, common to several fish alarm substances has been identified and has been shown to elicit alarm reactions in fish species belonging to the Osteriophysan superorder. In the current study we investigate the effect of hypoxanthine 3-N-oxide by exposing zebrafish to three different concentrations of this synthetic substance. Our results show that the substance efficaciously induces species-typical fear reactions increasing the number of erratic movement episodes and jumps in zebrafish. We discuss the translational relevance of our findings and conclude that hypoxanthine 3-N-oxide will have utility to elicit fear responses in the laboratory in a precisely controlled manner in zebrafish.
alarm substance; anxiety; fear; H3NO; zebrafish
A basic question in the field of motor control is how different actions are represented by activity in spinal projection neurons. We used a new behavioral assay to identify visual stimuli that specifically drive basic motor patterns in zebrafish. These stimuli evoked consistent patterns of neural activity in the neurons projecting to the spinal cord, which we could map throughout the entire population using in vivo two-photon calcium imaging. We found that stimuli that drive distinct behaviors activated distinct subsets of projection neurons, consisting, in some cases, of just a few cells. This stands in contrast to the distributed activation seen for more complex behaviors. Furthermore, targeted cell by cell ablations of the neurons associated with evoked turns abolished the corresponding behavioral response. This description of the functional organization of the zebrafish motor system provides a framework for identifying the complete circuit underlying a vertebrate behavior.
The Zebrafish Information Network (ZFIN, http://zfin.org), the model organism database for zebrafish, provides the central location for curated zebrafish genetic, genomic and developmental data. Extensive data integration of mutant phenotypes, genes, expression patterns, sequences, genetic markers, morpholinos, map positions, publications and community resources facilitates the use of the zebrafish as a model for studying gene function, development, behavior and disease. Access to ZFIN data is provided via web-based query forms and through bulk data files. ZFIN is the definitive source for zebrafish gene and allele nomenclature, the zebrafish anatomical ontology (AO) and for zebrafish gene ontology (GO) annotations. ZFIN plays an active role in the development of cross-species ontologies such as the phenotypic quality ontology (PATO) and the gene ontology (GO). Recent enhancements to ZFIN include (i) a new home page and navigation bar, (ii) expanded support for genotypes and phenotypes, (iii) comprehensive phenotype annotations based on anatomical, phenotypic quality and gene ontologies, (iv) a BLAST server tightly integrated with the ZFIN database via ZFIN-specific datasets, (v) a global site search and (vi) help with hands-on resources.
The development of dopaminergic and noradrenergic neurons has received much attention based on their modulatory effect on many behavioral circuits and their involvement in neurodegenerative diseases. The zebrafish (Danio rerio) has emerged as a new model organism with which to study development and function of catecholaminergic systems. Tyrosine hydroxylase is the entry enzyme into catecholamine biosynthesis and is frequently used as a marker for catecholaminergic neurons. A genome duplication at the base of teleost evolution resulted in two paralogous zebrafish tyrosine hydroxylase-encoding genes, th1 and th2, the expression of which has been described previously only for th1. Here we investigate the expression of th2 in the brain of embryonic and juvenile zebrafish. We optimized whole-mount in situ hybridization protocols to detect gene expression in the anatomical three-dimensional context of whole juvenile brains. To confirm whether th2-expressing cells may indeed use dopamine as a neurotransmitter, we also included expression of dopamine beta hydroxylase, dopa decarboxylase, and dopamine transporter in our analysis. Our data provide the first complete account of catecholaminergic neurons in the zebrafish embryonic and juvenile brain. We identified four major th2-expressing neuronal groups that likely use dopamine as transmitter in the zebrafish diencephalon, including neurons of the posterior preoptic nucleus, the paraventricular organ, and the nuclei of the lateral and posterior recesses in the caudal hypothalamus. th2 Expression in the latter two groups resolves a previously reported discrepancy, in which strong dopamine but little tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity had been detected in the caudal hypothalamus. Our data also confirm that there are no mesencephalic DA neurons in zebrafish. J. Comp. Neurol. 518:423–438, 2010. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
catecholamines; dopamine; noradrenaline/norepinephrine; teleost CNS; zebrafish; genome duplication; paralogous genes; tyrosine hydroxylase
Genetically targeted light-activated ion channels and pumps make it possible to determine the role of specific neurons in neuronal circuits, information processing and behavior. Here, we describe the development of a K+-selective ionotropic glutamate receptor that reversibly inhibits neuronal activity in response to light in dissociated neurons and brain slice and reversibly suppresses behavior in zebrafish. The receptor is a chimera of the pore region of a K+-selective bacterial glutamate receptor and the ligand binding domain of the light-gated mammalian kainate receptor (iGluR6/GluK2). This hyperpolarizing light-gated channel, HyLighter, is turned on by a brief light pulse at one wavelength and turned off by a pulse at a second wavelength. The control is obtained at moderate intensity. After optical activation, the photo-current and optical silencing of activity persist in the dark for extended periods. The low light requirement and bi-stability of HyLighter represent advantages for the dissection of neural circuitry.
With the arsenal of genetic tools available for zebrafish, this species has been successfully used to investigate the genetic aspects of human diseases from developmental disorders to cancer. Interest in the behavior and brain function of zebrafish is also increasing as CNS disorders may be modeled and studied with this species. Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are among the most devastating and costliest diseases. However, the mechanisms of these diseases are not fully understood. Zebrafish has been proposed as a model organism to study such mechanisms. Characterization of alcohol’s effects on zebrafish is a necessary step in this research.
Here, we compare the effects of acute alcohol (EtOH) administration on the behavior of zebrafish from 4 distinct laboratory-bred populations using automated as well as observation based behavioral quantification methods.
Alcohol treatment resulted in significant dose-dependent behavioral changes but the dose–response trajectories differed among zebrafish populations.
The results demonstrate for the first time a genetic component in alcohol responses in adult zebrafish and also show the feasibility of high throughput behavioral screening. We discuss the exploration and exploitation of the genetic differences found.
Alcoholism; Alcohol Abuse; Acute Alcohol Administration; Strain Comparison; Zebrafish; Zebra Danio
Zebrafish is used in forward genetic and drug screening and is gaining popularity in behavioral brain research but high throughput learning paradigms are lacking. The sight of conspecifics has been shown to be rewarding in zebrafish. Here, in a novel paradigm, subjects learn to respond to alternating presentation of computer animated zebrafish images. The simplicity and computerization of the paradigm will make it useful for high throughput screening.
associative learning; shuttle box; social behavior; temporal learning; zebrafish
In this essay a few relevant aspects of the neural and behavioral development of the brain in the human and in the rat are reviewed and related to the consequences of lesions in the central and peripheral nervous system at early and later age. Movements initially are generated by local circuits in the spinal cord and without the involvement of descending projections. After birth, both in humans and in rats it seems that the devlopment of postural control is the limiting factor for several motor behaviors to mature. Strong indications exist that the cerebellum is significantly involved in this control. Lesions in the CNS at early stages interfere with fundamental processes of neural development, such as the establishment of fiber connections and cell death patterns. Consequently, the functional effects are strongly dependent on the stage of development. The young and undisturbed CNS, on the other hand, has a much greater capacity than the adult nervous system for compensating abnormal reinnervation in the peripheral nervous system. Animal experiments indicated that the cerebellar cortex might play an important part in this compensation. This possibility should be investigated further as it might offer important perspectives for treatment in the human.
Understanding the link between neurobiology and cognition requires that neuroscience moves beyond mere structure-function correlations. An explicit systems perspective is needed in which putative mechanisms of how brain function is constrained by brain structure are mathematically formalized and made accessible for experimental investigation. Such a systems approach critically rests on a better understanding of brain connectivity in its various forms. Since 2002, frontier topics of connectivity and neural system analysis have been discussed in a multidisciplinary annual meeting, the Brain Connectivity Workshop (BCW), bringing together experimentalists and theorists from various fields. This article summarizes some of the main discussions at the two most recent workshops, 2006 at Sendai, Japan, and 2007 at Barcelona, Spain: (i) investigation of cortical micro- & macrocircuits, (ii) models of neural dynamics at multiple scales, (iii) analysis of “resting state” networks, and (iv) linking anatomical to functional connectivity. Finally, we outline some central challenges and research trajectories in computational systems neuroscience for the next years.
neural systems analysis; effective connectivity; nonlinear dynamics; fMRI; EEG; MEG; DCM; model comparison; resting state; microcircuits
A central tenet of neuroscience is that the precise patterns of connectivity among neurons in a given brain area underlie its function. However, assigning any aspect of perception or behavior to the wiring of local circuits has been challenging. Here, we review recent work in sensory neocortex that demonstrates the power of identifying specific cell types when investigating the functional organization of brain circuits. These studies indicate that knowing the identity of both the pre- and postsynaptic cell type is key when analyzing neocortical circuits. Furthermore, identifying the circuit organization of particular cell types in the neocortex allows the recording and manipulation of each cell type’s activity and the direct testing of its functional role in perception and behavior.