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Elife. 2016 Aug 9;5. pii: e16808. doi: 10.7554/eLife.16808.

A circuit motif in the zebrafish hindbrain for a two alternative behavioral choice to turn left or right.

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Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, United States.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Research Campus, Ashburn, United States.
Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, United States.


Animals collect sensory information from the world and make adaptive choices about how to respond to it. Here, we reveal a network motif in the brain for one of the most fundamental behavioral choices made by bilaterally symmetric animals: whether to respond to a sensory stimulus by moving to the left or to the right. We define network connectivity in the hindbrain important for the lateralized escape behavior of zebrafish and then test the role of neurons by using laser ablations and behavioral studies. Key inhibitory neurons in the circuit lie in a column of morphologically similar cells that is one of a series of such columns that form a developmental and functional ground plan for building hindbrain networks. Repetition within the columns of the network motif we defined may therefore lie at the foundation of other lateralized behavioral choices.


escape; inhibitory interneurons; motor control; neuroscience; zebrafish

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