A key challenge for neural systems is to extract relevant information from the environment and make appropriate behavioral responses. The larval zebrafish offers an exciting opportunity for studying these sensing processes and sensory-motor transformations. Prey hunting is an instinctual behavior of zebrafish that requires the brain to extract and combine different attributes of the sensory input and form appropriate motor outputs. Due to its small size and transparency the larval zebrafish brain allows optical recording of whole-brain activity to reveal the neural mechanisms involved in prey hunting and capture. In this review we discuss how the larval zebrafish brain processes visual information to identify and locate prey, the neural circuits governing the generation of motor commands in response to prey, how hunting behavior can be modulated by internal states and experience, and some outstanding questions for the field.
Keywords: experience-dependent plasticity; internal states; neural coding; optic tectum; vision.
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