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Conditioned place preference behavior in zebrafish

Nature Protocols volume 6, pages 338345 (2011) | Download Citation


This protocol describes conditioned place preference (CPP) in zebrafish following a single exposure to a substance. In the CPP paradigm, animals show a preference for an environment that has previously been associated with a substance (drug), thus indicating the positive-reinforcing qualities of that substance. The test tank consists of two visually distinct compartments separated by a central alley. The protocol involves three steps: the determination of initial preference, one conditioning session and the determination of final preference. This procedure is carried out in 2 d; other reported CPP protocols take up to 2 weeks. An increase in preference for the drug-associated compartment is observed after a single exposure. Establishment of this high-throughput protocol in zebrafish makes it possible to investigate the molecular and cellular basis of choice behavior, reward and associative learning. The protocol is also a tool for testing psychoactive compounds in the context of a vertebrate brain.

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This work was supported by grants from the Department of Neurology, Alcohol and Addiction research program at the University of California San Francisco, the Sandler Family Foundation, the Packard Foundation and NIH AA016021.

Author information

Author notes

    • Billy Lau

    Present address: Section of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA.


  1. Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.

    • Priya Mathur
    • , Billy Lau
    •  & Su Guo
  2. Programs in Neuroscience, Genetics, Developmental Biology and Human Genetics, University of California, San Francisco, California, USA.

    • Su Guo


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P.M., B.L. and S.G. designed experiments. P.M. and B.L. collected data and carried out data analyses. P.M. and S.G. wrote the paper.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Su Guo.

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