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ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-200506-12
Measuring recognition memory in zebrafish larvae: issues and limitations
Bruzzone, M., Gatto, E., Lucon Xiccato, T., Dalla Valle, L., Fontana, C.M., Meneghetti, G., Bisazza, A.
Date: 2020
Source: PeerJ   8: e8890 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Dalla Valle, Luisa
Keywords: NOR test, Neophobia, Recognition memory, Zebrafish larvae
MeSH Terms: none
PubMed: 32368416 Full text @ Peer J.
Recognition memory is the capacity to recognize previously encountered objects, events or places. This ability is crucial for many fitness-related activities, and it appears very early in the development of several species. In the laboratory, recognition memory is most often investigated using the novel object recognition test (NORt), which exploits the tendency of most vertebrates to explore novel objects over familiar ones. Despite that the use of larval zebrafish is rapidly increasing in research on brain, cognition and neuropathologies, it is unknown whether larvae possess recognition memory and whether the NORt can be used to assess it. Here, we tested a NOR procedure in zebrafish larvae of 7-, 14- and 21-days post-fertilization (dpf) to investigate when recognition memory first appears during ontogeny. Overall, we found that larvae explored a novel stimulus longer than a familiar one. This response was fully significant only for 14-dpf larvae. A control experiment evidenced that larvae become neophobic at 21-dpf, which may explain the poor performance at this age. The preference for the novel stimulus was also affected by the type of stimulus, being significant with tri-dimensional objects varying in shape and bi-dimensional geometrical figures but not with objects differing in colour. Further analyses suggest that lack of effect for objects with different colours was due to spontaneous preference for one colour. This study highlights the presence of recognition memory in zebrafish larvae but also revealed non-cognitive factors that may hinder the application of NORt paradigms in the early developmental stages of zebrafish.