The rise of zebrafish as a neuroscience research model organism, in conjunction with recent progress in single-cell resolution whole-brain imaging of larval zebrafish, opens a new window of opportunity for research on interval timing. In this article, we review zebrafish neuroanatomy and neuromodulatory systems, with particular focus on identifying homologies between the zebrafish forebrain and the mammalian forebrain. The neuroanatomical and neurochemical basis of interval timing is summarized with emphasis on the potential of using zebrafish to reveal the neural circuits for interval timing. The behavioural repertoire of larval zebrafish is reviewed and we demonstrate that larval zebrafish are capable of expecting a stimulus at a precise time point with minimal training. In conclusion, we propose that interval timing research using zebrafish and whole-brain calcium imaging at single-cell resolution will contribute to our understanding of how timing and time perception originate in the vertebrate brain from the level of single cells to circuits.
Keywords: anticipatory response; corticostriatal circuits; habenula; interval timing; two-photon microscopy.