Date Presented

Spring 5-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science



First Advisor

Keith Corodimas, PhD

Second Advisor

Jennifer Styrsky, PhD

Third Advisor

Elza Tiner, PhD


The goal of this experiment was to investigate the effects of nicotine in fear-conditioned zebrafish. Fear was analyzed by the presence of freezing, which was defined as the absence of movement for at least two consecutive seconds, excepting gill-related or ocular motions. Zebrafish have been used as subjects in many experiments to understand the effects of drugs on behavioral mecahnisms, but their memory processes have not been extensively studied. The present experiment investigated whether or not nicotine, given immediately after contextual fear conditioning, enhanced memory consolidation. Zebrafish were randomly categorized into two groups: placebo and high-dose nicotine (100mg/L). Individual fish were placed into the conditioning apparatus, where a Rigol DP832 programmable power supply administered shocks in a distinct environment. After conditioning, subjects were transported back to their home tanks. Reliable measurements were taken after conditioning to assess the effects of nicotine on emotional (fear) memory. Freezing was predicted to show a decrease in nicotine-exposed subjects in the original, yellow context. AquaScan behavioral tracking software and webcams measured behavioral correlates of fear, i.e. freezing. It was hypothesized that nicotine would decrease conditioned fear, resulting in shorter durations of observed freezing, when compared to placebo-treated subjects. The data suggested that there was a trend related to drug exposure and conditioning context, but the significance (p-value) was not great enough to conclude that there was a direct relationship between nicotine exposure and memory consolidation in this experiment.

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