The electric image in weakly electric fish: I. A data-based model of waveform generation in Gymnotus carapo

J Comput Neurosci. 1995 Jun;2(2):131-47. doi: 10.1007/BF00961884.


Understanding how electrosensory images are generated and perceived in actively electrolocating fish requires the study of the characteristics of fish bodies as electric sources. This paper presents a model of Gymnotus carapo based on measurements of the electromotive force generated by the electric organ and the impedance of the passive tissues. A good agreement between simulated and experimentally recorded transcutaneous currents was obtained. Passive structures participate in the transformation of the electromotive force pattern into transcutaneous current profiles. These spatial filtering properties of the fish's body were investigated using the model. The shape of the transcutaneous current profiles depends on tissue resistance and on the geometry and size of the fish. Skin impedance was mainly resistive. The effect of skin resistance on the spatial filtering properties of the fish's body was theoretically analyzed. The model results show that generators in the abdominal and central regions produce most of the currents through the head. This suggests that the electric organ discharge (EOD), generated in the abdominal and central regions is critical for active electrolocation. In addition, the well-synchronized EOD components generated all along the fish produce large potentials in the far field. These components are probably involved in long-distance electrocommunication. Preliminary results of this work were published as a symposium abstract.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Electric Fish / anatomy & histology
  • Electric Fish / physiology*
  • Electric Impedance
  • Electrophysiology
  • Models, Neurological
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Skin Physiological Phenomena