Hormone-induced and Maturational Changes in Electric Organ Discharges and Electroreceptor Tuning in the Weakly Electric Fish Apteronotus

J Comp Physiol A. 1987 Mar;160(3):385-94. doi: 10.1007/BF00613028.


Plasticity in the frequency of the electric organ discharge (EOD) and electroreceptor tuning of weakly electric fish was studied in the genus Apteronotus. Both hormone-induced and maturational changes in EOD frequency and electroreceptor tuning were examined. Apteronotus is different from all other steroid-responsive weakly electric fish in that estradiol-17 beta, rather than androgens, induces discharge frequency decreases. This result can account for the 'reversed' discharge frequency dimorphism found in Apteronotus in which, counter to all other known sexually dimorphic electric fish, females have lower discharge frequencies than males. Studies of electroreceptor tuning in Apteronotus indicate that electroreceptors are closely tuned to the frequency of the EOD. This finding was noted not only in adult animals, but also in juvenile animals shortly after the onset of their EODs. Tuning plasticity in Apteronotus, as in other species studied, is associated with altered EOD frequencies and was noted in both maturational EOD changes and in estrogen-induced changes. Thus, tuning plasticity appears to be a general phenomenon which occurs concurrent with a variety of EOD changes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Androgens / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Electric Fish / growth & development
  • Electric Fish / physiology*
  • Electric Organ / drug effects
  • Electric Organ / growth & development
  • Electric Organ / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Estrogens / pharmacology
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Female
  • Hormones / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology


  • Androgens
  • Estrogens
  • Hormones