Delivering appropriate stimuli remains a challenge in vision research, particularly for aquatic animals such as zebrafish. Due to the shape of the water tank and the associated optical paths of light rays, the stimulus can be subject to unwanted refraction or reflection artifacts, which may spoil the experiment and result in wrong conclusions. Here, we employ computer graphics simulations and calcium imaging in the zebrafish optic tectum to show, how a spherical glass container optically outperforms many previously used water containers, including Petri dish lids. We demonstrate that aquatic vision experiments suffering from total internal reflection artifacts at the water surface or at the flat container bottom may result in the erroneous detection of visual neurons with bipartite receptive fields and in the apparent absence of neurons selective for vertical motion. Our results and demonstrations will help aquatic vision neuroscientists on optimizing their stimulation setups.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience