We developed a system for evaluation of visual function in larval and adult fish. Both optomotor (swimming) and optokinetic (eye movement) responses were monitored and recorded using a system of rotating stripes. The system allowed manipulation of factors such as width of the stripes used, rotation speed of the striped drum, and light illuminance levels within both the scotopic and photopic ranges. Precise control of these factors allowed quantitative measurements of visual acuity and motion detection. Using this apparatus, we tested the hypothesis that significant posthatch ontogenetic improvements in visual function occur in the medaka Oryzias latipes, and also that this species shows significant in ovo neuronal development. Significant improvements in the acuity angle alpha (ability to discriminate detail) were observed from approximately 5 degrees at hatch to 1 degree in the oldest adult stages. In addition, we measured a significant improvement in flicker fusion thresholds (motion detection skills) between larval and adult life stages within both the scotopic and photopic ranges of light illuminance. Ranges of flicker fusion thresholds (X?? ?? SD) at log I=1.96 (photopic) varied from 37.2 ?? 1.6 cycles/s in young adults to 18.6 ?? 1.6 cycles/s in young larvae 10 days posthatch. At log I= - 2.54 (scotopic), flicker fusion thresholds varied from 5.8 ?? 0.7 cycles/s in young adults to 1.7 ?? 0.4 cycles/s in young larvae 10 days posthatch. Light sensitivity increased approximately 2.9 log units from early hatched larval stages to adults. The demonstrated ontogenetic improvements in visual function probably enable the fish to explore new resources, thereby enlarging their fundamental niche. ?? 2002 The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour. Published by Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.
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Ontogenetic improvement of visual function in the medaka Oryzias latipes based on an optomotor testing system for larval and adult fish