The Role of the Mauthner Cell in Fast-Starts Involving Escape in Teleost Fishes

  • Robert C. Eaton
  • John T. Hackett


The commonly observed “tailflip” startle response is one of the most characteristic behavior patterns of bony and cartilagenous fishes and amphibians. In the most familiar example, the behavior pattern is readily elicited in fish following a tap on the side of their aquarium. However, data from behavioral studies show that the response is an effective escape movement that enables the animal to avoid sudden attacks by predators. An example of this is shown in Figure 1 in which a small cyprinid fish uses a common startle response movement pattern to avoid a strike by a piscivorous snake.


Startle Response Zebrafish Larva Axon Initial Segment Vibrational Stimulus Relay Neuron 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert C. Eaton
    • 1
  • John T. Hackett
    • 2
  1. 1.Behavioral Biology Group, Department of Biology, E.P.O.University of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of Physiology, School of MedicineUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

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