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Zebra fish and cortisol may parallel human personality development

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Hermella Alemneh and Mikaela Hanson are using zebra fish in a research project that could have a direct correlation in the way we understand how hormones play a vital role in human personality outcomes.

Using a maze, the two classmates determined how bold or shy each zebra fish was by testing if they would go forward in a maze without knowing whether food or a predator would await them at the end of the tunnel.

“You don’t think about fish having personalities – it’s more of a humanistic trait – but all animals have personalities,” Hanson said. “When I was talking to Dr. Wisenden, they had done previous research kind of like this, looking at whether you inherit your personality or if it’s more epigenetic.”

Alemneh and Hanson conjecture that the personality of each fish can be directly linked with the atmosphere surrounding the mother’s pregnancy. If the mother spent the majority of her pregnancy in a safe environment and had enough to eat, her offspring will likely be bold. If cortisol levels in the mother were high due to consistently taxing experiences, the chance that she will produce shy, apprehensive offspring is more probable.

Read the full, original story: Personality and genetics

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