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Development and automation of a test of impulse control in zebrafish

Matthew O. Parker, Dennis Ife, Jun Ma, Mahesh Pancholi, Fabrizio Smeraldi, Chris Straw and Caroline H. Brennan, Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience 7:65, doi:10.3389/fnsys.2013.00065, October 10th, 2013


Deficits in impulse control (difficulties in inhibition of a pre-potent response) are fundamental to a number of psychiatric disorders, but the molecular and cellular basis is poorly understood. Zebrafish offer a very useful model for exploring these mechanisms, but there is currently a lack of validated procedures for measuring impulsivity in fish. In mammals, impulsivity can be measured by examining rates of anticipatory responding in the 5-choice serial reaction time task (5-CSRTT), a continuous performance task where the subject is reinforced upon accurate detection of a briefly presented light in one of five distinct spatial locations. This paper describes the development of a fully-integrated automated system for testing impulsivity in adult zebrafish. We outline the development of our image analysis software and its integration with National Instruments drivers and actuators to produce the system. We also describe an initial validation of the system through a one-generation screen of chemically mutagenized zebrafish, where the testing parameters were optimized.

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