Before I arrived as an intern in the I-DEEL lab, Shinichi purchased four completely automated experimental boxes from Zantiks Ltd – a behavioural research equipment company. Sent all the way from Cambridge, the boxes arrived soon after I began working at Garvan Institute of Medical Research.
Eventually, the scripts were suitable to begin pilot experiments. While it would be i-deel (😉) to implement both aversive and appetitive learning trials, we decided to focus solely on aversive learning due to time constraints involved in getting the fish to learn.
Many mornings and afternoons have been spent toiling over which settings would yield the best results; and whether these results can be replicated. A key lesson learned was to give heed to all aspects of the experimental process provided by the literature. Once we included an acclimation period at the beginning of the assays, our confidence in the boxes reached an all-time high.
The next set of assays will set out to determine the variance in preference with different colour combinations – if there is any preference at all. And once we produce a consistent output of ‘significant’ results, other lab members can include Zantiks assays (quite easily) into their own work!