Coding of Stimuli by Ampullary Afferents in Gnathonemus petersii

Engelmann J, Gertz S, Goulet J, Schuh A, von der Emde G (2010)
Journal of Neurophysiology 104(4): 1955-1968.

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Abstract
Weakly electric fish use electroreception for both active and passive electrolocation and for electrocommunication. While both active and passive electrolocation systems are prominent in weakly electric Mormyriform fishes, knowledge of their passive electrolocation ability is still scarce. To better estimate the contribution of passive electric sensing to the orientation toward electric stimuli in weakly electric fishes, we investigated frequency tuning applying classical input-output characterization and stimulus reconstruction methods to reveal the encoding capabilities of ampullary receptor afferents. Ampullary receptor afferents were most sensitive (threshold: 40 muV/cm) at low frequencies (<10 Hz) and appear to be tuned to a mix of amplitude and slope of the input signals. The low-frequency tuning was corroborated by behavioral experiments, but behavioral thresholds were one order of magnitude higher. The integration of simultaneously recorded afferents of similar frequency-tuning resulted in strongly enhanced signal-to-noise ratios and increased mutual information rates but did not increase the range of frequencies detectable by the system. Theoretically the neuronal integration of input from receptors experiencing opposite polarities of a stimulus (left and right side of the fish) was shown to enhance encoding of such stimuli, including an increase of bandwidth. Covariance and coherence analysis showed that spiking of ampullary afferents is sufficiently explained by the spike-triggered average, i.e., receptors respond to a single linear feature of the stimulus. Our data support the notion of a division of labor of the active and passive electrosensory systems in weakly electric fishes based on frequency tuning. Future experiments will address the role of central convergence of ampullary input that we expect to lead to higher sensitivity and encoding power of the system.
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Engelmann J, Gertz S, Goulet J, Schuh A, von der Emde G. Coding of Stimuli by Ampullary Afferents in Gnathonemus petersii. Journal of Neurophysiology. 2010;104(4):1955-1968.
Engelmann, J., Gertz, S., Goulet, J., Schuh, A., & von der Emde, G. (2010). Coding of Stimuli by Ampullary Afferents in Gnathonemus petersii. Journal of Neurophysiology, 104(4), 1955-1968.
Engelmann, J., Gertz, S., Goulet, J., Schuh, A., and von der Emde, G. (2010). Coding of Stimuli by Ampullary Afferents in Gnathonemus petersii. Journal of Neurophysiology 104, 1955-1968.
Engelmann, J., et al., 2010. Coding of Stimuli by Ampullary Afferents in Gnathonemus petersii. Journal of Neurophysiology, 104(4), p 1955-1968.
J. Engelmann, et al., “Coding of Stimuli by Ampullary Afferents in Gnathonemus petersii”, Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 104, 2010, pp. 1955-1968.
Engelmann, J., Gertz, S., Goulet, J., Schuh, A., von der Emde, G.: Coding of Stimuli by Ampullary Afferents in Gnathonemus petersii. Journal of Neurophysiology. 104, 1955-1968 (2010).
Engelmann, Jacob, Gertz, S., Goulet, J., Schuh, A., and von der Emde, G. “Coding of Stimuli by Ampullary Afferents in Gnathonemus petersii”. Journal of Neurophysiology 104.4 (2010): 1955-1968.
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PMID: 20685928
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