Biologically inspired robots elicit a robust fear response in zebrafish

Fabrizio Ladu, Tiziana Bartolini, Sarah G. Panitz, Sachit Butail, Simone Macrì, Maurizio Porfiri

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


We investigate the behavioral response of zebrafish to three fear-evoking stimuli. In a binary choice test, zebrafish are exposed to a live allopatric predator, a biologically-inspired robot, and a computer-animated image of the live predator. A target tracking algorithm is developed to score zebrafish behavior. Unlike computer-animated images, the robotic and live predator elicit a robust avoidance response. Importantly, the robotic stimulus elicits more consistent inter-individual responses than the live predator. Results from this effort are expected to aid in hypothesis-driven studies on zebrafish fear response, by offering a valuable approach to maximize data-throughput and minimize animal subjects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number94290Q
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
Issue numberJanuary
StatePublished - 2015
EventBioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication 2015 - San Diego, United States
Duration: Mar 9 2015Mar 11 2015


  • Animal models
  • Anti-predatory behavior
  • Anxiety
  • Biologically-inspired robotics
  • Zebrafish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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