A hormone-sensitive communication system in an electric fish

J Neurobiol. 1986 May;17(3):131-55. doi: 10.1002/neu.480170303.


The electric communication system includes both special muscle-derived cells or electrocytes that produce species-typical electric signals, or electric organ discharges (EODs), and specialized sensory receptors, or electroreceptors, that encode the electric fields set up by EODs. Steroid hormones can influence the characteristic properties of both EODs and electroreceptors. Steroids appear to directly effect the anatomy and physiology of the electrocytes that generate an EOD. In contrast, the steroid effect on electroreceptors may be predominantly via an indirect mechanism whereby changes in the spectral characteristics of the EOD appear to induce changes in the spectral sensitivity of electroreceptors. Continued studies of electrosensory and electromotor systems will offer insights into the cellular bases for the development and evolution of steroid-sensitive pathways in the vertebrate nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoradiography
  • Cell Communication*
  • Electric Organ / drug effects
  • Electric Organ / metabolism
  • Electric Organ / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Female
  • Fishes
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones