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Neuroscience. 2007 May 25;146(3):1109-16. Epub 2007 Apr 11.

A choice behavior for morphine reveals experience-dependent drug preference and underlying neural substrates in developing larval zebrafish.

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  • 1Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143-2811, USA.


Transparent larval zebrafish offer the opportunity to unravel genetic and neuronal networks underlying behavior in a developing system. In this study, we developed a choice chamber paradigm to measure reward-associated behavior in larval zebrafish. In the chamber where larval zebrafish have a choice of spending their time in either a water- or morphine-containing compartment, larvae that have previously experienced morphine spend significantly more time in the compartment containing morphine. This behavior can be attentuated by pre-treatment with antagonists of the opioid receptor or the dopamine receptor, and furthermore, is impaired in the too few mutant, which has a genetic deficiency in the production of specific groups of dopaminergic and serotonergic neurons in the ventral forebrain. These results uncover a choice behavior for an addictive substance in larval zebrafish that is mediated through central opioid and monoaminergic neurotransmitter systems.

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