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The Effect of Ethanol on Zebrafish Behavior

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Zebrafish (Danio rerio) have been extensively studied in behavioral pharmacology research because they are model organisms for animals of higher complexity. Therefore, studying how they respond to drugs of abuse, such as ethanol, may help us understand how these same drugs affect humans. Research from our lab has demonstrated that alcohol decreases behaviors related to anxiety in zebrafish. In humans and rodents, the effects of alcohol are modulated by social variables. Although zebrafish are a social species, potential interactions between social conditions and alcohol have not been explored. The goal of this experiment was to determine whether social conditions interact with alcohol to affect anxiety-related behavior in zebrafish. In our experiment, zebrafish were housed individually, in pairs, or in groups of four. After one week, they were individually dosed with either 0%, 0.5%, or 1% alcohol. Using Ethovision tracking software, we determined how much time the fish spent in the shallow side of a test tank (suggesting that the fish were less anxious). Our current results demonstrate that ethanol increases duration in the shallow end. Fish housed in pairs also spent less time in the shallow side than those housed alone or in groups of four. Finally, single-housed fish showed the largest change in behavior in response to ethanol. These results suggest that social conditions do affect how zebrafish respond to ethanol, and build on the evidence that zebrafish are a relevant model organism for studying anxiolytic medications.

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The Effect of Ethanol on Zebrafish Behavior

Zebrafish (Danio rerio) have been extensively studied in behavioral pharmacology research because they are model organisms for animals of higher complexity. Therefore, studying how they respond to drugs of abuse, such as ethanol, may help us understand how these same drugs affect humans. Research from our lab has demonstrated that alcohol decreases behaviors related to anxiety in zebrafish. In humans and rodents, the effects of alcohol are modulated by social variables. Although zebrafish are a social species, potential interactions between social conditions and alcohol have not been explored. The goal of this experiment was to determine whether social conditions interact with alcohol to affect anxiety-related behavior in zebrafish. In our experiment, zebrafish were housed individually, in pairs, or in groups of four. After one week, they were individually dosed with either 0%, 0.5%, or 1% alcohol. Using Ethovision tracking software, we determined how much time the fish spent in the shallow side of a test tank (suggesting that the fish were less anxious). Our current results demonstrate that ethanol increases duration in the shallow end. Fish housed in pairs also spent less time in the shallow side than those housed alone or in groups of four. Finally, single-housed fish showed the largest change in behavior in response to ethanol. These results suggest that social conditions do affect how zebrafish respond to ethanol, and build on the evidence that zebrafish are a relevant model organism for studying anxiolytic medications.