Neural circuits underlying locomotor behavior in the larval zebrafish

Larval zebrafish swim to move around their environment, find food, and escape from predators. We are interested in the circuits in the brain and spinal cord which control that locomotion. The neat thing is, larval zebrafish can be genetically manipulated so we can mark certain neurons with colors or calcium activity monitors, and view them through their transparent bodies, while they perform motor actions. Using these techniques, we try to understand what specific circuits are essential for performing different motor actions, and how those circuits are wired together.

Who we are and what we stand for

We are a group of scientists trying to better understand how the brain, spinal cord, and environment interact to produce motor behavior. We believe science should be interdisciplinary, open access, conducted with the highest integrity, and that diversity contributes to creative thinking. We support the ethical treatment of our fish. We think science should be collaborative and fun!

NJIT and Rutgers University-Newark have a shared graduate program through our Federated Department.

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Lab Logo drawn by

Pratik Sinha

class of 2020

Research Interests

This is a 6 day old larval zebrafish swimming in response to a visual cue. The larva can swim with its head in a jelly-like substance, while the tail moves naturally. We use this setup to image the brain activity while the fish is actively swimming.

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We are interested in studying the circuits connecting the brain and spinal cord which are utilized to execute these swimming movements. In the above image you can see in magenta the neurons which send signals from the brain to the motor neurons in the spinal cord, shown in green.