Workshop - Who is behaving how and why?

WORKSHOP - Neurobiology, behavior research & genetics meet: Who is behaving how and why?

  • age group: grade 9 onwards
  • maximum attendance: 24
  • duration: 8 hours
  • previous knowledge: none
  • certified ZDI workshop


During the course, the students get to know a versatile object of study in biology and medicine: The zebrafish. Decisive factors for the choice of the zebrafish as a so-called model system are the low requirements regarding its keeping, coupled with relatively easy genetic manipulability, a very rapid development, as well as the fact that both the egg and the early larval stage of the animal are transparent and therefore easy to observe. Especially the development of the lateral line organ in zebrafish provides a vivid model for the function and development of a sensory organ within a simple neural network. The lateral line organ is responsible for the perception of flow movements and changes in the water and mediates corresponding behavior (e.g. avoidance of obstacles/other fish in the swarm or escape behavior) of the animal. It consists of the so-called neuromasts, which are located below the surface of the fish. The neuromasts in turn consist of hair cells. Hair cells are composed of the cell body and the name-giving hair-like structures that serve to absorb the stimulus. This hair bundle sits on the upper end of the cell and consists of a cilia (kinocilia) and several stereovilli. Hair cells perceive water currents and transmit these stimuli to the brain via afferent nerve cells (Mauthner neuron). This stimulus transmission then leads to specific behavioral changes, such as adaptation to the movement of the swarm or escape. The same nerve cells are also activated by sensory neurons after touch and the associated activation.


  • Sensory organ development
  • Sensory perception
  • Signal processing
  • Neuronal network
  • Nerve conduction
  • Genetics
  • Animal Experiments


  • Introduction to zebrafish as a model organism
  • Independent analysis of different developmental stages
  • Analysis of different escape responses
  • "Find the circler"
  • Presentation of results
  • Discussion

Learning Outcomes

  • Lern more about model systems in biological research
  • Understand the development of the zebrafish larva & development of the nervous system
  • describe the overall structure of a nerve cell
  • understand nerve conduction and how neurons communicate with each other
  • Describe the functioning of stimulus transmission
  • Getting to know measurement errors, scattering, mean value
  • Recognizing the necessity of repetitive experiments in science