Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




Pamela Hunt

Committee Members

Amy Rains

Douglas Young


Scopolamine is a non-selective muscarinic acetylcholine receptor antagonist that is currently on the market as an anti-emetic to treat motion sickness and post-operative nausea. One of its side effects is memory deficits, which has made it useful as a pharmacological model of the memory impairments of Alzheimer’s disease. Due to this function, further characterizing scopolamine’s cognitive effects in animal models is very useful. In this study I analyzed scopolamine’s effects on anxiety in zebrafish (Danio rerio) by comparing it to the known anxiety-causing drug (anxiogenic) pentylenetetrazole and anxiety-reducing drug (anxiolytic) buspirone. The drugs were administered to the fish which were then put through two established behavioral tests of anxiety: the novel tank diving test and the open field + novel object approach test. In the novel tank diving test the buspirone fish exhibited significantly less anxiety-like behavior than the PTZ and scopolamine fish, which didn’t differ. The second test yielded the opposite results, with the buspirone fish showing significantly more anxiety-like behavior than the PTZ and scopolamine fish, which again didn’t differ. However, the PTZ and scopolamine fish, but not buspirone fish, had increased anxiety-like behavior when the novel object was added which indicates the buspirone may have had some anxiolytic effect as expected. The results of these tests may have been skewed by effects of the drugs on the muscular systems, so continued studies should be conducted to further investigate confounding variables. In both of these experiments scopolamine had similar results to PTZ which indicates that it acts as an anxiogenic agent in zebrafish. Knowing scopolamine’s effect on anxiety will be helpful in distinguishing behavioral results when this drug is used in future research in zebrafish.

On-Campus Access Only