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Front. Behav. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2019.00004

Visual contrast modulates operant learning responses in larval zebrafish

 Wenbin Yang1, 2, 3*,  Yutong Meng2, 3,  Danyang Li2, 3 and  Quan Wen1, 2, 3, 4*
  • 1Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the Microscale, University of Science and Technology of China, China
  • 2School of Life Sciences, University of Science & Technology of China, China
  • 3CAS Key Laboratory of Brain Function and Diseases, University of Science and Technology of China, China
  • 4CAS Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology (CEBSIT), Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

The larval zebrafish is a promising vertebrate model organism to study neural mechanisms underlying learning and memory due to its small brain and rich behavioral repertoire. Here, we report on a high-throughput operant conditioning system for zebrafish larvae, which can simultaneously train twelve fish to associate a visual conditioned pattern with electroshocks. We find that the learning responses can be enhanced by the visual contrast, not the spatial features of the conditioned patterns, highlighted by several behavioral metrics. By further characterizing the learning curves as well as memory extinction, we demonstrate that the percentage of learners and the memory length increase as the conditioned pattern becomes darker. Finally, little difference in operant learning responses was found between AB wild-type fish and elavl3:H2B-GCaMP6f transgenic fish.

Keywords: Zebrafish larvae, behavioral neuroscience, Learning and memeory, Vision - contrast sensitivity, High-throughput imaging, Automated image analysis

Received: 03 Sep 2018; Accepted: 07 Jan 2019.

Edited by:

Gérard Manière, Université de Bourgogne, France

Reviewed by:

Sen Song, Tsinghua University, China
Peng Cao, National Institute of Biological Sciences (NIBS), China
Tod R. Thiele, University of Toronto, Canada  

Copyright: © 2019 Yang, Meng, Li and Wen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
Mr. Wenbin Yang, Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the Microscale, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, 230026, Anhui Province, China, young24@mail.ustc.edu.cn
Dr. Quan Wen, Hefei National Laboratory for Physical Sciences at the Microscale, University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, 230026, Anhui Province, China, qwen@ustc.edu.cn