Weakly electric fish use their electrosensory systems for electrocommunication, active electrolocation and low-frequency passive electrolocation. In electric fish of the family Mormyridae, these three purposes are mediated by separate classes of electroreceptors: electrocommunication by Knollenorgan electroreceptors, active electrolocation by Mormyromast electroreceptors and low-frequency passive electrolocation by ampullary electroreceptors. The primary afferent fibres from each class of electroreceptors terminate in a separate central region. Thus, the mormyrid electrosensory system has three anatomically and functionally distinct subsystems. This review describes the sensory coding and initial processing in each of the three subsystems, with an emphasis on the Knollenorgan and Mormyromast subsystems. The Knollenorgan subsystem is specialized for the measurement of temporal information but appears to ignore both intensity and spatial information. In contrast, the Mormyromast subsystem is specialized for the measurement of both intensity and spatial information. The morphological and physiological characteristics of the primary afferents and their central projection regions are quite different for the two subsystems and reflect the type of information which the subsystems preserve. This review also describes the electric organ corollary discharge (EOCD) effects which are present in the central projection regions of each of the three electrosensory subsystems. These EOCD effects are driven by the motor command that drives the electric organ to discharge. The EOCD effects are different in each of the three subsystems and these differences reflect differences in both the pattern and significance of the sensory information that is evoked by the fish's own electric organ discharge. Some of the EOCD effects are invariant, whereas others are plastic and depend on previous afferent input. The mormyrid work is placed within two general contexts: (a) the measurement of time and intensity in sensory systems, and (b) the various roles of motor command (efferent) signals and self-induced sensory (reafferent) signals in sensorimotor systems.
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JOURNAL ARTICLE| 01 September 1989
Sensory coding and corollary discharge effects in mormyrid electric fish
C. C. Bell
Online Issn: 1477-9145
Print Issn: 0022-0949
© 1989 by Company of Biologists
J Exp Biol (1989) 146 (1): 229–253.
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C. C. Bell; Sensory coding and corollary discharge effects in mormyrid electric fish. J Exp Biol 1 September 1989; 146 (1): 229–253. doi: https://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.146.1.229
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