Acute caffeine administration affects zebrafish response to a robotic stimulus

Fabrizio Ladu, Violet Mwaffo, Jasmine Li, Simone Macrì, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Zebrafish has been recently proposed as a valid animal model to investigate the fundamental mechanisms regulating emotional behavior and evaluate the modulatory effects exerted by psychoactive compounds. In this study, we propose a novel methodological framework based on robotics and information theory to investigate the behavioral response of zebrafish exposed to acute caffeine treatment. In a binary preference test, we studied the response of caffeine-treated zebrafish to a replica of a shoal of conspecifics moving in the tank. A purely data-driven information theoretic approach was used to infer the influence of the replica on zebrafish behavior as a function of caffeine concentration. Our results demonstrate that acute caffeine administration modulates both the average speed and the interaction with the replica. Specifically, zebrafish exposed to elevated doses of caffeine show reduced locomotion and increased sensitivity to the motion of the replica. The methodology developed in this study may complement traditional experimental paradigms developed in the field of behavioral pharmacology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-54
Number of pages7
JournalBehavioural Brain Research
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Anxiety
  • Caffeine
  • Fish replica
  • Robotics
  • Transfer entropy
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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