A one-trial inhibitory avoidance task to zebrafish: rapid acquisition of an NMDA-dependent long-term memory

Martina Blank, Laura D Guerim, Reinaldo F Cordeiro, Monica R M Vianna
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory 2009, 92 (4): 529-34
The behavioral tasks aiming to evaluate learning and memory mechanisms currently available to zebrafish (Danio rerio) involve long training sessions frequently along multiple days and are based on shuttle box or active-avoidance protocols, preventing a detailed analysis of cellular and molecular time-dependent processes involved in memory acquisition and consolidation. In order to explore zebrafish's potential contribution to the characterization of the molecular machinery underlying learning and memory rapidly acquired and reliable paradigms are necessary. In this study we present a rapid and effective learning protocol in a single-trial inhibitory avoidance in zebrafish. In a simple apparatus, adult animals learned to refrain from swimming from a white into a dark compartment in order to avoid an electric shock during a single-trial training session that lasted less than 2 min. The resulting memory is robust, long-lasting and sensitive to NMDA-receptor antagonist MK-801 given in the tank water immediately after training. Experiments aiming to further characterize the events underlying memory formation, retrieval or extinction or those looking for cognitive profiling of mutants, neurotoxicological studies and disease models may benefit from this task, and together with complementary strategies available for zebrafish may significantly improve our current knowledge on learning and memory mechanisms.

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