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Biochim Biophys Acta. 2011 Mar;1812(3):381-9. doi: 10.1016/j.bbadis.2010.10.011. Epub 2010 Oct 28.

Behavioural assessments of neurotoxic effects and neurodegeneration in zebrafish.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Altered neurological function will generally be behaviourally apparent. Many of the behavioural models pioneered in mammalian models are portable to zebrafish. Tests are available to capture alterations in basic motor function, changes associated with exteroceptive and interoceptive sensory cues, and alterations in learning and memory performance. Excepting some endpoints involving learning, behavioural tests can be carried out at 4 days post fertilization. Given larvae can be reared quickly and in large numbers, and that software solutions are readily available from multiple vendors to automatically test behavioural responses in 96 larvae simultaneously, zebrafish are a potent and rapid model for screening neurological impairments. Coupling current and emerging behavioural endpoints with molecular techniques will permit and accelerate the determination of the mechanisms behind neurotoxicity and degeneration, as well as provide numerous means to test remedial drugs and other therapies. The emphasis of this review is to highlight unexplored/underutilized behavioural assays for future studies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled Zebrafish Models of Neurological Diseases.

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