Rapid habituation of a touch-induced escape response in Zebrafish (Danio rerio) Larvae

Zebrafish larvae have several biological features that make them useful for cellular investigations of the mechanisms underlying learning and memory. Of particular interest in this regard is a rapid escape, or startle, reflex possessed by zebrafish larvae; this reflex, the C-start, is mediated by a relatively simple neuronal circuit and exhibits habituation, a non-associative form of learning. Here we demonstrate a rapid form of habituation of the C-start to touch that resembles the previously reported rapid habituation induced by auditory or vibrational stimuli. We also show that touch-induced habituation exhibits input specificity. This work sets the stage for in vivo optical investigations of the cellular sites of plasticity that mediate habituation of the C-start in the larval zebrafish.