Zebrafish is a widely used animal model in behavioral neuroscience. However, zebrafish learning capabilities are not completely understood. Technological advancements in robotics promise fine behavioral control of artificial conspecifics to study complex aspects of social behavior. In this work, we developed a training system aimed at investigating individual and social learning of zebrafish. The system consists of a shallow water tank, a 2- dimensional robotic platform, and a real-time tracking software. In the tank, a focal individual is separated from a shoal of conspecifics by a one-way glass and a transparent partition, allowing the focal fish to see the shoal. In the transparent partition are two doors, one that automatically opens when the focal individual spends a predetermined amount of time in front of it and another that remains closed regardless of the fish behavior. We tested the system by training one na¨ıve fish in individual learning and one fish in social learning over 20 sessions. Test results show that the fish can learn to open the door and also validated the effectiveness of the developed system applying on individual and social learning.
Biomimetic robotics is emerging as a promising research tool in the study of animal behavior, providing highlycontrollable and customizable stimuli in laboratory experiments and field trials. Here, we introduce a novel robotics-based approach to study predator-prey interactions in fish. Our animal model, zebrafish, is gaining traction as a species of choice for investigations of fear and anxiety in preclinical research. The platform integrates three-dimensional real-time tracking, four-degree-of-freedom robotic manipulation, and data-driven Markov chains to allow for unprecedented, interactive experiments on zebrafish.