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Zebrafish as a model organism to investigate working memory and age-related cognitive decline

  • Date: 2016-2018
  • Project leader: Alistair J. Brock

We investigate the genes affecting working memory and age-related cognitive decline, using zebrafish as the model organism. Zebrafish are ideal for identifying genes related to cognitive aging because they share a majority of the same genes with humans and can perform behavioural tasks similar to those used in mammals and humans to assess cognition. We are carrying out a large-scale genetic screein in adult zebrafish that analyses complex cognitive behaviours in fish. Using the Zantiks AD system, Dr Alistair Brock has trained various genetic lines of zebrafish in behavioural tasks commonly used to assess short-term memory (matching to sample) andresponse times (5-choice serial reaction time, 5-CSRTT), at 2 different ages: young (6 months) and old (2 years). Zebrafish have been trained to perform 3-choice discriminations within 3 weeks, 5-choice discriminations within 5 weeks and 3-choice matching-to-sample within 8 weeks. This work has enabled demonstration of several genetic lines of interest that show significantly altered learning performance and will continue the screen and further characterise the genes involved.