Skip to main content
Log in

Spatial and non-spatial visual discrimination learning in zebrafish (Danio rerio)

  • Original Article
  • Published:
Animal Cognition Aims and scope Submit manuscript


Zebrafish (Danio rerio) provide an excellent model for assessment of molecular processes of neurodevelopment. To determine the functional importance of molecular events during neurodevelopment, we have developed methods for assessing learning in zebrafish in a three-chambered fish tank. In the first study, simple escape response was assessed. Zebrafish tested with a moving net learned to escape to another chamber more rapidly over the six sessions of training than the fish with the still net which did not learn. Upon reversal of the contingencies, the fish switched to the inactive net rapidly learned to suppress the escape response and fish formerly in the inactive net condition learned to avoid the moving net. In the second study, spatial discrimination learning was assessed. Zebrafish were trained on a right-left position discrimination to avoid the active net. Zebrafish showed significant improvement in escape responses over six sessions of training with three trials per session. In the third study, red-blue non-spatial discrimination learning was assessed. There was a significant improvement over the first six training sessions. With the reversal of contingencies, there was a significant decline of performance. With continued training, the fish again significantly improved avoidance. These studies found an effective motivational stimulus and procedure for studying escape behavior in zebrafish; a procedure whereby zebrafish would learn both spatial and non-spatial discrimination. These methods are being developed to help determine the functional importance of molecular events during zebrafish neurodevelopment.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Additional information

Accepted after revision: 20 August 2001

Electronic Publication

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Arthur, D., Levin, E.D. Spatial and non-spatial visual discrimination learning in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Anim.Cogn. 4, 125–131 (2001).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: