The Effects of Oxytocin on Social Anxiety-Like Behaviour in Zebrafish


  • Jasmine Parr MacEwan University


Social anxiety is a predominant disorder in Northern America affecting approximately 7% of the population. Various medications are consistently being tested to minimize the effects of social anxiety as there is no one drug that works on everyone. Zebrafish have been used as a model organism for neurological research over the last few decades and are ideal to test how drugs affect anxiety. The effects of oxytocin on decreasing social anxiety-like behaviours were examined in zebrafish. Past studies have shown that a moderate amount of oxytocin lowers average levels of social anxiety (Strungaru et al., 2017). This study aims to examine the therapeutic potential of oxytocin as an anxiolytic drug. Three groups of four zebrafish were exposed to varying doses of oxytocin (control: 0.0ng/ul; low: 52.8ng/ul; and high: 88.0ng/ul) for 90 seconds via immersion and then monitored for 5 minutes. Inter-individual distance between shoal mates was measured as a degree of social anxiety. The results showed no significant differences in mean distance between experimental dosage groups. Although the results came back insignificant, further research is needed to determine whether oxytocin holds an anxiolytic effect with different dependent variables such as exposure time and drug administration method.

Department: Psychology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Melike Schalomon