Directional and color preference in adult zebrafish: Implications in behavioral and learning assays in neurotoxicology studies

Bault, Z.A., Peterson, S.M., Freeman, J.L.
Journal of applied toxicology : JAT   35(12): 1502-10 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Freeman, Jennifer, Peterson, Sam
color preference, directional preference, lead, learning assay, neurobehavior, neurotoxicity, zebrafish
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal/drug effects*
  • Choice Behavior/drug effects*
  • Color Perception/drug effects*
  • Discrimination Learning/drug effects
  • Distance Perception/drug effects*
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian/drug effects
  • Female
  • Lead/toxicity*
  • Male
  • Maze Learning/drug effects
  • Nervous System/drug effects*
  • Nervous System/embryology
  • Sex Factors
  • Zebrafish/embryology
  • Zebrafish/growth & development*
25993913 Full text @ J. Appl. Toxicol.
The zebrafish (Danio rerio) is a useful vertebrate model organism for neurological studies. While a number of behavior and learning assays are recently reported in the literature for zebrafish, many of these assays are still being refined. The initial purpose of this study was to apply a published T-maze assay for adult zebrafish that measures how quickly an organism can discriminate between different color stimuli after receiving reinforcement to measure learning in a study investigating the later life impacts of developmental Pb exposure. The original results were inconclusive as the control group showed a directional and color preference. To assess directional preference further, a three-chambered testing apparatus was constructed and rotated in several directions. The directional preference observed in males was alleviated by rotating the arms pointing west and east. In addition, color preference was investigated using all combinations of five different colors (orange, yellow, green, blue and purple). With directional preference alleviated results showed that both male and female zebrafish preferred colors of shorter wavelengths. An additional experiment tested changes in color preference due to developmental exposure to Pb in adult male zebrafish. Results revealed that Pb-exposed males gained and lost certain color preferences compared to control males and the preference for short wavelengths was decreased. Overall, these results show that consideration and pretesting should be completed before applying behavioral and learning assays involving adult zebrafish to avoid innate preferences and confounding changes in neurotoxicology studies and that developmental Pb exposure alters color preferences in adult male zebrafish.
Genes / Markers
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Mutation and Transgenics
Human Disease / Model Data
Sequence Targeting Reagents
Engineered Foreign Genes
Errata and Notes