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Neuroscience research

Munch's SCREAM: A spontaneous movement by zebrafish larvae featuring strong abduction of both pectoral fins often associated with a sudden bend.


PMID 25527305

Abstract

Stereotyped movement of paired pectoral fins in zebrafish larvae could be considered a simple model with which to investigate the neural basis of behavior. Using a high-speed camera, we explored the repertoire of pectoral fin movements by naturally behaving larvae at 5-6 days post-fertilization. Previously, two types of fin movements were characterized in association with locomotion: 'CRAWLing,' an alternating fin movement associated with slow swimming, and 'TUCKing,' the adduction of both fins associated with fast swimming. We here describe a third mode of fin movement, which we call 'Munch's SCREAM', in which both pectoral fins were flipped anteriorly so that they reached the skin on the sides of the head, thus covering the otic vesicles. This behavior occurred spontaneously and was often associated with a slight regression or a sudden bending and change in body orientation. It could be also induced effectively in the agarose-embedded larvae by tactile stimulation on the skin around the eye and nose, some of which are associated with struggling, in which waves of bending propagate from the tail to the head. Larvae can still CRAWL and perform the SCREAM even when their forebrain and midbrain have been removed, suggesting that the neural circuits involved in the SCREAM are present in the hindbrain and/or spinal cord.