Receptive field organization across multiple electrosensory maps. I. Columnar organization and estimation of receptive field size

J Comp Neurol. 2009 Oct 10;516(5):376-93. doi: 10.1002/cne.22124.


The electric fish Apteronotus leptorhynchus emits a high-frequency electric organ discharge (EOD) sensed by specialized electroreceptors (P-units). Amplitude modulations (AMs) of the EOD are caused by objects such as prey as well as by social interactions with conspecifics. The firing rate of P-units is modulated by the AMs due to both objects and communication signals. P-units trifurcate as they enter the medulla; they terminate topographically with three maps of the electrosensory lateral line lobe (ELL): the centromedial (CMS), centrolateral (CLS), and lateral (LS) segments. Within each map P-units terminate onto the basal dendrites of pyramidal cells. Anterograde filling of P-units and retrograde filling of the basal bushes of pyramidal cells were used to estimate their respective spreads and spacing in the three maps. These estimates were used to compute the receptive field structure of the pyramidal cells: receptive fields were small in CMS and very large in LS with intermediate values in CLS. There are several classes of pyramidal cells defined by morphological and functional criteria; these cells are organized into columns such that each column contains one member of each class and all cells within a column receive the same P-unit input.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cell Count
  • Electric Fish / physiology*
  • Electric Organ / innervation
  • Electric Organ / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Lateral Line System / innervation
  • Lateral Line System / physiology*
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology*