Lagogiannis K, Diana G, Meyer MP (2020) Learning steers the ontogeny of an efficient hunting sequence in zebrafish larvae. Elife 9

Goal-directed behaviors may be poorly coordinated in young animals but, with age and experience, behavior progressively adapts to efficiently exploit the animal's ecological niche. How experience impinges on the developing neural circuits of behavior is an open question. We have conducted a detailed study of the effects of experience on the ontogeny of hunting behavior in larval zebrafish. We report that larvae with prior experience of live prey consume considerably more prey than naive larvae. This is mainly due to increased capture success and a modest increase in hunt rate. We demonstrate that the initial turn to prey and the final capture manoeuvre of the hunting sequence were jointly modified by experience and that modification of these components predicted capture success. Our findings establish an ethologically relevant paradigm in zebrafish for studying how the brain is shaped by experience to drive the ontogeny of efficient behavior.

Pubmed: 32773042