Weakly Electric Fish as Model Systems for Studying Long-Term Steroid Action on Neural Circuits

Brain Behav Evol. 1993;42(4-5):242-51. doi: 10.1159/000114158.


Weakly electric fish generate electric organ discharges (EODs) that are species-specific and often sexually-dimorphic. The waveform or frequency of an EOD can be altered by treating a fish with sex steroid hormones. The EOD is controlled by a few discrete nuclei in the brainstem and spinal cord and a muscle-derived electric organ. The organizational simplicity and steroid-sensitivity of the electromotor system make it a premier system for investigating how sex steroids modulate behavior, neural circuitry, and ion channels. In addition, the diversity of EOD patterns in the many species of electric fish provide a wealth of material in which to examine the evolution of sexual dimorphisms in the nervous system.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Fish / physiology*
  • Electric Organ / physiology*
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Models, Biological
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Sex Characteristics
  • Sex Differentiation / physiology*
  • Sexual Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Sodium Channels / physiology
  • Species Specificity


  • Sodium Channels