Rapid habituation of a touch-induced escape response in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Larvae

PLoS One. 2019 Apr 4;14(4):e0214374. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0214374. eCollection 2019.


Zebrafish larvae have several biological features that make them useful for cellular investigations of the mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Of particular interest in this regard is a rapid escape, or startle, reflex possessed by zebrafish larvae; this reflex, the C-start, is mediated by a relatively simple neuronal circuit and exhibits habituation, a non-associative form of learning. Here we demonstrate a rapid form of habituation of the C-start to touch that resembles the previously reported rapid habituation induced by auditory or vibrational stimuli. We also show that touch-induced habituation exhibits input specificity. This work sets the stage for in vivo optical investigations of the cellular sites of plasticity that mediate habituation of the C-start in the larval zebrafish.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electroshock
  • Escape Reaction / drug effects
  • Escape Reaction / physiology*
  • Glycine / pharmacology
  • Habituation, Psychophysiologic* / drug effects
  • Head
  • Larva / drug effects
  • Larva / physiology
  • Reflex, Startle / drug effects
  • Reflex, Startle / physiology
  • Strychnine / pharmacology
  • Touch / physiology*
  • Zebrafish / physiology*


  • Strychnine
  • Glycine