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Despite their high prevalence, the mechanisms of anxiety disorders are not well understood and the effectiveness of their pharmacological treatments is relatively low. In addition to exploring the development of pharmacological treatments for anxiety disorders, this senior project investigated the validity of a novel paradigm reported to be a good measure of anxiety-like behavior in larval zebrafish—an emerging model organism of neuropsychiatric disorders. The paradigm consists of a standard and color-enriched open field test recently adapted for larval zebrafish that provide a way in which to analyze exploratory behavior and the impact of environmental complexity (colors) on that behavior. Previous research demonstrated that adult zebrafish avoid blue and prefer red, suggesting that they are capable of color discrimination; however, there has been little research into the phenomenon in larval zebrafish. The present study assesses a standard and color-enriched open field test adapted for larval zebrafish as an index of anxiety-like behavior through the administration of an anxiogenic, caffeine, in larval zebrafish, while examining their natural pattern of color preference and avoidance. The findings indicate that standard and color-enriched open field tests may not be a good index of anxiety-like behavior. However, it appears that larval zebrafish are capable of discriminating colors and specifically prefer green. The relevance of these findings is discussed in the context of treatments for anxiety disorders.
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Spratt, Colleen Heather, "Establishing an anxiety paradigm adapted for larval zebrafish: The effects of an anxiogenic on standard and color-enriched open field tests" (2015). Senior Projects Spring 2015. 344.