Peripheral organization and central projections of the electrosensory nerves in gymnotiform fish

J Comp Neurol. 1982 Oct 20;211(2):139-53. doi: 10.1002/cne.902110204.


The electrosensory system of weakly electric gymnotiform fish is described from the receptor distribution on the body surface to the termination of the primary afferents in the posterior lateral line lobe (PLLL). There are two types of electroreceptor(ampullary and tuberous) and a single type of lateral line mechanoreceptor (neuromast). Receptor counts in Apteronotus albifrons show that (1) neuromasts are distributed as in other teleosts; (2) ampullary receptors number 151 on one side of the head and 208 on one side of the body; (3) tuberous receptors were estimated to number 3,000-3,500 on one side of the head and 3,500-5,000 on one side of the body. The distribution of each receptor type is described. Each receptor is innervated by a single primary afferent. Electrosensory afferents have myelinated cell bodies in the ganglion of the anterior lateral line nerve (ALLN). The distribution of these ganglion cell diameters is strongly bimodal in Apteronotus and Eigenmannia: The smaller-diameter cells may be those which innervate ampullary electroreceptors, the larger-diameter tuberous electroreceptors. Transganglionic HRP transport techniques were used to determine the first-order connections of the anterior lateral line nerve in six species of gymnotiform fish. Small branches of the ALLN were labeled so as to determine the somatotopic organization in the PLLL. The PLLL is divided into four segments from medial to lateral, termed medial, centromedial, centrolateral, and lateral segments (Heiligenberg and Dye, '81). Representations of the head are found rostrally in each zone, and the trunk is mapped caudally in each zone. Thus there are four body maps in the PLLL. The medial segment receives ampullary input (Heiligenberg and Dye, '82) and maps the dorsoventral body axis mediolaterally, as does the tuberous centrolateral segment. The tuberous centromedial and lateral segments map the dorsoventral axis lateromedially. Thus the medial and centromedial segments meet belly to belly, the centromedial and centrolateral segments meet back to back, and the centrolateral and lateral segments meet belly to belly. Adjacent electrosensory maps within the PLLL are therefore always mirror images.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Afferent Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Brain Stem / anatomy & histology
  • Electric Organ / innervation*
  • Facial Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Fishes / anatomy & histology*
  • Ganglia / anatomy & histology
  • Mechanoreceptors / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated / ultrastructure
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / anatomy & histology*
  • Skin / innervation*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Vestibulocochlear Nerve / anatomy & histology*