Spontaneous Activity in the Zebrafish Tectum Reorganizes over Development and Is Influenced by Visual Experience

Lilach Avitan, Zac Pujic, Jan Mölter, Matthew Van De Poll, Biao Sun, Haotian Teng, Rumelo Amor, Ethan K. Scott, Geoffrey J. Goodhill*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Spontaneous patterns of activity in the developing visual system may play an important role in shaping the brain for function. During the period 4–9 dpf (days post-fertilization), larval zebrafish learn to hunt prey, a behavior that is critically dependent on the optic tectum. However, how spontaneous activity develops in the tectum over this period and the effect of visual experience are unknown. Here we performed two-photon calcium imaging of GCaMP6s zebrafish larvae at all days from 4 to 9 dpf. Using recently developed graph theoretic techniques, we found significant changes in both single-cell and population activity characteristics over development. In particular, we identified days 5–6 as a critical moment in the reorganization of the underlying functional network. Altering visual experience early in development altered the statistics of tectal activity, and dark rearing also caused a long-lasting deficit in the ability to capture prey. Thus, tectal development is shaped by both intrinsic factors and visual experience.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)2407-2419.e4
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number16
StatePublished - 21 Aug 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier Ltd


  • behavior
  • calcium imaging
  • critical period
  • dark rearing
  • graph theory
  • neural assemblies
  • neural coding
  • neural plasticity
  • prey capture
  • visual development


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