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Behav Brain Res. 2008 Mar 17;188(1):168-77. Epub 2007 Nov 4.

Alarm substance induced behavioral responses in zebrafish (Danio rerio).

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University of Toronto at Mississauga, Canada.


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.

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