Melina Hale of the University of Chicago is studying neuronal circuits in zebrafish that generate startle responses. (Yes, the kinds of startle responses that are produced by sudden sounds or movements.)
Because little is known about how circuits operate in any organism and because startle responses are controlled by relatively simple circuits, an improved understanding of the circuitry of the zebrafish's startle responses is expected to help lay the groundwork for research on more complicated circuits.
The zebrafish--a small common aquarium fish--serves as an excellent fish for laboratory studies because molecular tools are available for experimenting with its neurons. The zebrafish can also be easily maintained and reproduces and develops rapidly. Also, young zebrafish are transparent and so their nervous systems are easily observable.
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