Illusionary self-motion perception in zebrafish

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Abstract

Zebrafish mutant belladonna (bel) carries a mutation in the lhx2 gene (encoding a Lim domain homeobox transcription factor) that results in a defect in retinotectal axon pathfinding, which can lead to uncrossed optic nerves failing to form an optic chiasm. Here, we report on a novel swimming behavior of the bel mutants, best described as looping. Together with two previously reported oculomotor instabilities that have been related to achiasmatic bel mutants, reversed optokinetic response (OKR) and congenital nystagmus (CN, involuntary conjugate oscillations of both eyes), looping opens a door to study the influence of visual input and eye movements on postural balance. Our result shows that looping correlates perfectly with reversed OKR and CN and is vision-dependent and contrast sensitive. CN precedes looping and the direction of the CN slow phase is predictive of the looping direction, but is absent during looping. Therefore, looping may be triggered by CN in bel. Moreover, looping in wild-type fish can also be evoked by whole-field motion, suggesting that looping in a bel mutant larvae is a result of self-motion perception. In contrary to previous hypotheses, our findings indicate that postural control in vertebrates relies on both direct visual input (afference signal) and eye-movement-related signals (efference copy or reafference signal) © 2009 Huang et al.

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Huang, Y. Y., Tschopp, M., & Neuhauss, S. C. F. (2009). Illusionary self-motion perception in zebrafish. PLoS ONE, 4(8). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0006550

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