ZFIN ID: ZDB-PUB-190706-8
The Visually Mediated Social Preference Test: A Novel Technique to Measure Social Behavior and Behavioral Disturbances in Zebrafish
Norton, W.H.J., Manceau, L., Reichmann, F.
Date: 2019
Source: Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)   2011: 121-132 (Chapter)
Registered Authors: Norton, Will
Keywords: Autism spectrum disorder, Social behavior, Social interaction, Social novelty, Social preference, Zebrafish
MeSH Terms:
  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder/etiology
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder/psychology
  • Behavior, Animal*
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Social Behavior*
  • Zebrafish*
PubMed: 31273697 Full text @ Meth. Mol. Biol.
Zebrafish are an emerging model in behavioral neuroscience. They display a wide range of measurable behaviors such as locomotion, aggression, anxiety, learning and memory, and social behavior. In addition, the relative ease of genetic manipulation and the increasing availability of disease models mean that zebrafish have gained in popularity as an animal model for various neurological and psychiatric diseases including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). In order to better characterize social behavior and behavioral abnormalities in zebrafish, we have developed the visually mediated social preference (VMSP) test, a novel assay to measure social preference and social novelty in two consecutive 5-min sessions. Using recording and video tracking, the time spent in different areas of the tank, the time spent immobile, swimming speed, and distance moved can be easily measured and analyzed. Untreated experimentally naive AB WT zebrafish typically show a strong preference for spending time near and interacting with a compartment containing unfamiliar conspecifics over the empty compartments during session 1 and a stronger preference for a group of unfamiliar zebrafish over familiar conspecifics from session 1, during session 2 of the test. Research in our lab has shown that the VMSP is suitable to measure the social behavior of individual zebrafish, to uncover social phenotypes of mutant strains, and to better understand animal models of disease that include impaired sociability such as ASD. The current paper provides a step-by-step guide on how to implement and perform this test and highlights important considerations for data acquisition, analysis, and interpretation.