Frontiers of Medicine

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 178–190 | Cite as

Behavioral methods for the functional assessment of hair cells in zebrafish

  • Qin Yang
  • Peng Sun
  • Shi Chen
  • Hongzhe LiEmail author
  • Fangyi ChenEmail author


Zebrafish is an emerging animal model for studies on auditory system. This model presents high comparability with humans, good accessibility to the hearing organ, and high throughput capacity. To better utilize this animal model, methodologies need to be used to quantify the hearing function of the zebrafish. Zebrafish displays a series of innate and robust behavior related to its auditory function. Here, we reviewed the advantage of using zebrafish in auditory research and then introduced three behavioral tests, as follows: the startle response, the vestibular-ocular reflex, and rheotaxis. These tests are discussed in terms of their physiological characteristics, up-to-date technical development, and apparatus description. Test limitation and areas to improve are also introduced. Finally, we revealed the feasibility of these applications in zebrafish behavioral assessment and their potential in the high-throughput screening on hearing-related genes and drugs.


zebrafish (Danio reriobehavior auditory startle response vestibular-ocular reflex rheotaxis 


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This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 81470701) and the Shenzhen Overseas Talents Innovation Plan (No. KQCX20140522150857838) awarded to FC, and by the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (No. W81XWH1410006) awarded to HL. Figs. 2C, 4 and 5A were adapted from references 32, 40 and 63 respectively with permissions of Elsevier, Journal of Experimental Biology and the American Physiological Society. Fig. 2A and 2B were adapted from references 34 and 36 of the open access journal PLoS ONE, and Fig. 5B from reference 64 of the open access journal BMC Neuroscience.


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Copyright information

© Higher Education Press and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologySouth University of Science and Technology of ChinaShenzhenChina
  2. 2.Department of Basic MedicineWuhan UniversityWuhanChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Analog and Mixed-Signal VLSIUniversity of MacauMacauChina
  4. 4.Key Laboratory of Combinatorial Biosynthesis and Drug Discovery, Ministry of Education, School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Medical Research InstituteWuhan UniversityWuhanChina
  5. 5.Research ServiceVA Loma Linda Healthcare SystemLoma LindaUSA
  6. 6.Department of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck SurgeryLoma Linda University School of MedicineLoma LindaUSA

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