In this case, the zebrafish was pondering how to capture and eat a swimming paramecium.
While that's not what we would consider to be a deep thought, the basic process of analysis could be used to study any number of complex behaviors, from perception to movement to decision making. The zebrafish brain has a fair amount in common with the human brain, so the methods in future could help us, according to the researchers.
Kawakami said, "In the future, we can interpret an animal's behavior, including learning and memory, fear, joy, or anger, based on the activity of particular combinations of neurons. This has the potential to shorten the long processes for the development of new psychiatric medications," he said.
I'm reminded of the old commercial that showed a frying egg, with the announcer saying, "This is your brain on drugs." In future, we really will see what a brain on drugs-legal and otherwise- looks like.
(Image: SEFSC Pascagoula Laboratory; Collection of Brandi Noble, NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC)