Neural activity in a hippocampus-like region of the teleost pallium is associated with active sensing and navigation

Elife. 2019 Apr 3;8:e44119. doi: 10.7554/eLife.44119.


Most vertebrates use active sensing strategies for perception, cognition and control of motor activity. These strategies include directed body/sensor movements or increases in discrete sensory sampling events. The weakly electric fish, Gymnotus sp., uses its active electric sense during navigation in the dark. Electric organ discharge rate undergoes transient increases during navigation to increase electrosensory sampling. Gymnotus also use stereotyped backward swimming as an important form of active sensing that brings objects toward the electroreceptor dense fovea-like head region. We wirelessly recorded neural activity from the pallium of freely swimming Gymnotus. Spiking activity was sparse and occurred only during swimming. Notably, most units tended to fire during backward swims and their activity was on average coupled to increases in sensory sampling. Our results provide the first characterization of neural activity in a hippocampal (CA3)-like region of a teleost fish brain and connects it to active sensing of spatial environmental features.

Keywords: active sensing; free-swimming; neuroscience; place cells; telencephalon; weakly electric fish; wireless recording.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Electric Organ / physiology*
  • Gymnotiformes / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Perception*
  • Spatial Navigation*
  • Swimming