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Reversal learning and resurgence of operant behavior in zebrafish (Danio rerio).

Behav Processes. 2017 Sep;142:79-83

Authors: Kuroda T, Mizutani Y, Cançado CRX, Podlesnik CA

Zebrafish are used extensively as vertebrate animal models in biomedical research for having such features as a fully sequenced genome and transparent embryo. Yet, operant-conditioning studies with this species are scarce. The present study investigated reversal learning and resurgence of operant behavior in zebrafish. A target response (approaching a sensor) was reinforced in Phase 1. In Phase 2, the target response was extinguished while reinforcing an alternative response (approaching a different sensor). In Phase 3, extinction was in effect for the target and alternative responses. Reversal learning was demonstrated when responding tracked contingency changes between Phases 1 and 2. Moreover, resurgence occurred in 10 of 13 fish in Phase 3: Target response rates increased transiently and exceeded rates of an unreinforced control response. The present study provides the first evidence with zebrafish supporting reversal learning between discrete operant responses and a laboratory model of relapse. These findings open the possibility to assessing genetic influences of operant behavior generally and in models of relapse (e.g., resurgence, renewal, reinstatement).

PMID: 28633953 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

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