The African wave-type electric fish, Gymnarchus niloticus, lacks corollary discharge mechanisms for electrosensory gating

J Comp Physiol A. 1994 Feb;174(2):133-44. doi: 10.1007/BF00193781.


Gymnarchus niloticus, a wave-type African electric fish, performs its jamming avoidance response by relying solely upon afferent signals and does not use corollary discharges from the pacemaker nucleus in the medulla which generates the rhythmicity of electric organ discharges. This is in sharp contrast to the mode of sensory processing found in closely related African pulse-type electric fishes where afferent signals are gated by corollary discharges from the pacemaker for the distinction of exafferent and reafferent stimuli. Does Gymnarchus still possess a corollary discharge mechanism for other behavioral tasks but does not use it for the jamming avoidance response? In this study, I recorded from and labeled medullary neuronal structures that either generate or convey the pacemaker signal for electric organ discharges to examine whether this information is also sent directly to any sensory areas. The pacemaker nucleus was identified as the site of generation of the pacemaking signal. The pacemaker neurons project exclusively to the lateral relay nucleus which, in turn projects exclusively to the medial relay nucleus. Neurons in the medial relay nucleus send unbranched axons to the spinal electromotoneurons. These neurons are entirely devoted to drive the electric organ discharges, and no axon collaterals from these neurons were found to project to any sensory areas. This indicates that Gymnarchus does not possess the neuronal hardware for a corollary discharge mechanism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Electric Fish / physiology*
  • Electric Organ / anatomy & histology
  • Electric Organ / cytology
  • Electric Organ / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Medulla Oblongata / cytology
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Sensation / physiology*