Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity of adult zebrafish

Front Zool. 2012 May 29;9(1):10. doi: 10.1186/1742-9994-9-10.


Background: The aim of this study was to evaluate the visual acuity of adult zebrafish by assessing the optokinetic reflex. Using a modified commercially available optomotor device (OptoMotry®), virtual three-dimensional gratings of variable spatial frequency or contrast were presented to adult zebrafish. In a first experiment, visual acuity was evaluated by changing the spatial frequency at different angular velocities. Thereafter, contrast sensitivity was evaluated by changing the contrast level at different spatial frequencies.

Results: At the different tested angular velocities (10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 d/s) and a contrast of 100%, visual acuity values ranged from 0.56 to 0.58 c/d. Contrast sensitivity measured at different spatial frequencies (0.011, 0.025, 0.5, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5 and 0.55 c/d) with an angular velocity of 10 d/s and 25 d/s revealed an inverted U-shaped contrast sensitivity curve. The highest mean contrast sensitivity (±SD) values of 20.49 ± 4.13 and 25.24 ± 8.89 were found for a spatial frequency of 0.05 c/d (angular velocity 10 d/s) and 0.1 c/d (angular velocity 25 d/s), respectively.

Conclusions: Visual acuity and contrast sensitivity measurements in adult zebrafish with the OptoMotry® device are feasible and reveal a remarkably higher VA compared to larval zebrafish and mice.