Optogenetics, the use of light sensitive proteins (opsins) to manipulate cell activity, enables researchers to silence or incite neuronal firing and study subsequent effects on behavior. The system is an especially powerful tool for in vivo behavioral studies because it is non-invasive and offers a high degree of control over time and space.
Zebrafish have become a popular model organism because their larval stage lends itself well to studies of neuroscience. The larvae of zebrafish are translucent and allow for noninvasive live imaging with fluorescent tags and activation of light sensing proteins. Furthermore, during the first 2 weeks of life, larvae already exhibit distinct behaviors such as spontaneous swimming and escape reflex. These traits, coupled with short generation times and high fecundity, make zebrafish ideal for high throughput studies of optogenetics.