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Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2018 Feb;85:176-190. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.09.002. Epub 2017 Sep 5.

The zebrafish as a promising tool for modeling human brain disorders: A review based upon an IBNS Symposium.

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Department of Cell and System Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.
Department of Cell & Developmental Biology, University College London, London UK.
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, School of Medicine, University of Puerto Rico - Medical Sciences Campus, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Department of Cell and System Biology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada; Department of Psychology, University of Toronto Mississauga, Mississauga, Canada. Electronic address:


The zebrafish represents an excellent compromise between system complexity and practical simplicity, features that make it useful for modeling and mechanistic analysis of complex brain disorders. Also promising are screens for psychoactive drugs with effects on larval and adult zebrafish behavior. This review, based upon a recent symposium held at the 2016 IBNS Congress, provides different perspectives on how the zebrafish may be utilized to advance research into human central nervous system disorders. It starts with a discussion on an important bottleneck in zebrafish research, measuring the behavior of this species (specifically shoaling), and continues with examples on research on autism spectrum disorder in larval zebrafish, on screening natural products for compounds with psychoactive properties in adult zebrafish, and on the development of a zebrafish model of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. By providing information on a broad spectrum of brain disorders, experimental methods, and scientific approaches using both larval and adult zebrafish, the review is intended to showcase this underutilized laboratory species for behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology research.


Alcoholism; Anxiety; Autism; Epilepsy; Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders; Psychopharmacology; Social behavior; Zebrafish

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