Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Pamela Hunt

Committee Members

Randolph Coleman

Phoebe Williams


Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is partially characterized by deficits in spatial memory. Recent research also suggests that AD is a disorder of the immune system, which can be negatively impacted by stress. Stress also impairs spatial memory and previous studies have demonstrated this trend in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Zebrafish are an increasingly popular model organism for translational neuroscience research. Studies suggest that zebrafish are capable of learning spatial tasks such as the Y-maze, which can be used to evaluate rates of spontaneous alternation behavior (SAB) in zebrafish. SAB is an exploratory behavior that demonstrates spatial memory when it occurs above chance levels (i.e. greater than 50%). SAB can be identified through rates of spatial alternation or response alternation. There are few reports of spatial alternation in larval zebrafish, while response alternation has only been demonstrated by one lab. This study aims to better characterize patterns of SAB in zebrafish and examine the effect of direct cortisol exposure (stress) in varying amounts on the rate of SAB. Sixteen zebrafish were intermittently exposed to either 5 or 10 μM cortisol and were then placed in a Y-maze. Their movements in the Y-maze were recorded and analyzed to calculate rates of spatial alternation and response alternation. Results indicate that zebrafish do not show spatial alternation in the Y-maze, and that cortisol has no effect on rates of spatial alternation or response alternation.

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Available for download on Thursday, May 08, 2025