Reducing the noise in behavioral assays: Sex and age in adult zebrafish locomotion

Catelyn Philpott, Corey J. Donack, Margot A. Cousin, Chris Pierret

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Many assays are used in animal model systems to measure specific human disease-related behaviors. The use of both adult and larval zebrafish as a behavioral model is gaining popularity. As this work progresses and potentially translates into new treatments, we must do our best to improve the sensitivity of these assays by reducing confounding factors. Scientists who use the mouse model system have demonstrated that sex and age can influence a number of behaviors. As a community, they have moved to report the age and sex of all animals used in their studies. Zebrafish work does not yet carry the same mandate. In this study, we evaluated sex and age differences in locomotion behavior. We found that age was a significant factor in locomotion, as was sex within a given age group. In short, as zebrafish age, they appear to show less base level locomotion. With regard to sex, younger (10 months) zebrafish showed more locomotion in males, while older zebrafish (22 months) showed more movement in females. These findings have led us to suggest that those using the zebrafish for behavioral studies control for age and sex within their experimental design and report these descriptors in their methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-194
Number of pages4
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Developmental Biology


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