ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-150108-3
Recording Field Potentials From Zebrafish Larvae During Escape Responses
Monesson-Olson, B.D., Troconis, E.L., Trapani, J.G.
Date: 2014
Source: Journal of undergraduate neuroscience education : JUNE : a publication of FUN, Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience   13: A52-A58 (Journal)
Registered Authors: Trapani, Josef
Keywords: Mauthner cells, electromyography (EMG), electrophysiology, escape responses, field potentials, motor behavior, neurophysiology, zebrafish
MeSH Terms: none
PubMed: 25565920
Among vertebrates, startle responses are a ubiquitous method for alerting, and avoiding or escaping from alarming or dangerous stimuli. In zebrafish larvae, fast escape behavior is easily evoked through either acoustic or tactile stimuli. For example, a light touch to the head will excite trigeminal neurons that in turn excite a large reticulospinal neuron in the hindbrain called the Mauthner cell (M-cell). The M-cell action potential then travels down the contralateral trunk of the larva exciting motoneurons, which subsequently excite the entire axial musculature, producing a large amplitude body bend away from the source of the stimulus. This body conformation is known as the "C-bend" due to the shape of the larva during the behavior. As a result of the semi-synchronized activation of the M-cell, the population of motor neurons, and the axial trunk muscles, a large field potential is generated and can be recorded from free-swimming or fixed-position larvae. Undergraduate laboratories that record field potentials during escape responses in larval zebrafish are relatively simple to setup and allow students to observe and study the escape reflex circuit. Furthermore, by testing hypotheses, analyzing data and writing journal-style laboratory reports, students have multiple opportunities to learn about many neuroscience topics including vertebrate reflexes; sensory transduction; synaptic-, neuro-, and muscle-physiology; the M-cell mediated escape response; and the zebrafish as a model organism. Here, we detail the equipment, software, and recording setup necessary to observe field potentials in an undergraduate teaching lab. Additionally, we discuss potential advanced laboratory exercises and pedagogical outcomes. Finally, we note possible low-cost alternatives for recording field potentials.