What are the cognitive abilities of a newly hatched zebrafish? A research from the University of Padova found that hatchings are able to associate a visual stimulus with presence of food. Learning occurs much faster in larvae than in adult zebrafish, requiring less than 48h to establish an association.
This feature was exploited to assess the capacity of larval zebrafish to recognize objects. Larvae can easily discriminate two objects by their color or shape. They can also perceive more complex visual properties, being able to discriminate two identical objects with a different spatial orientation or an object from its mirror image.
Larval zebrafish is an emerging model in neurobiology and the discovery that they have enhanced cognitive abilities opens new avenues for the understanding of brain functioning and for the study of genetic and molecular bases of human neuropathologies.
Santacà M, Dadda M, Dalla Valle L, Fontana C, Gjinaj G, Bisazza A. Learning and visual discrimination in newly hatched zebrafish. iScience. 2022 Apr 22;25(5):104283. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.104283. PMID: 35573200; PMCID: PMC9092964.