A choice behavior for morphine reveals experience-dependent drug preference and underlying neural substrates in developing larval zebrafish

Neuroscience. 2007 May 25;146(3):1109-16. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2006.12.073. Epub 2007 Apr 11.


Transparent larval zebrafish offer the opportunity to unravel genetic and neuronal networks underlying behavior in a developing system. In this study, we developed a choice chamber paradigm to measure reward-associated behavior in larval zebrafish. In the chamber where larval zebrafish have a choice of spending their time in either a water- or morphine-containing compartment, larvae that have previously experienced morphine spend significantly more time in the compartment containing morphine. This behavior can be attentuated by pre-treatment with antagonists of the opioid receptor or the dopamine receptor, and furthermore, is impaired in the too few mutant, which has a genetic deficiency in the production of specific groups of dopaminergic and serotonergic neurons in the ventral forebrain. These results uncover a choice behavior for an addictive substance in larval zebrafish that is mediated through central opioid and monoaminergic neurotransmitter systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / pharmacology*
  • Animals
  • Biogenic Amines / physiology
  • Choice Behavior / drug effects*
  • Chromatography, Liquid
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Dopamine / physiology
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Larva / physiology*
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Morphine / pharmacology*
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Naloxone / pharmacology
  • Narcotic Antagonists / pharmacology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology
  • Receptors, Odorant / genetics
  • Receptors, Odorant / physiology
  • Receptors, Opioid / physiology
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / genetics
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / physiology
  • Reinforcement, Psychology
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reward
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Zebrafish / physiology*


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Biogenic Amines
  • Narcotic Antagonists
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Receptors, Odorant
  • Receptors, Opioid
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Naloxone
  • Morphine
  • Dopamine