Elasmobranch fishes localize weak electric sources at field intensities of <5 ηV cm−1, but the response dynamics of electrosensory primary afferent neurons to near threshold stimuli in situ are not well characterized. Electrosensory primary afferents in the round stingray, Urolophus halleri, have a relatively high discharge rate, a regular discharge pattern and entrain to 1-Hz sinusoidal peak electric field gradients of ≤20 ηV cm−1. Peak neural discharge for units increases as a non-linear function of stimulus intensity, and unit sensitivity (gain) decreases as stimulus intensity increases. Average peak rate-intensity encoding is commonly lost when peak spike rate approximately doubles that of resting, and for many units occurs at intensities <1 μV cm−1. Best neural sensitivity for nearly all units is at 1–2 Hz with a low-frequency slope of 8 dB/decade and a high-frequency slope of −23 dB/decade. The response characteristics of stingray electrosensory primary afferents indicate sensory adaptations for detection of extremely weak phasic fields near 1–2 Hz. We argue that these properties reflect evolutionary adaptations in elasmobranch fishes to enhance detection of prey, communication and social interactions, and possibly electric-mediated geomagnetic orientation.
Sensitivity and Response Dynamics of Elasmobranch Electrosensory Primary Afferent Neurons to Near Threshold Fields
Title: Sensitivity and Response Dynamics of Elasmobranch Electrosensory Primary Afferent Neurons to Near Threshold Fields
December 01, 1997
Journal: Journal of Comparative Physiology A
Tricas, T.; New, J. (1997). Sensitivity and Response Dynamics of Elasmobranch Electrosensory Primary Afferent Neurons to Near Threshold Fields. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 182(1), 89-101.