Phase and amplitude maps of the electric organ discharge of the weakly electric fish, Apteronotus leptorhynchus

B. Rasnow, C. Assad, J. M. Bower

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The electric organ discharge (EOD) potential was mapped on the skin and midplane of several Apteronotus leptorhynchus. The frequency components of the EOD on the surface of the fish have extremely stable amplitude and phase. However, the waveform varies considerably with different positions on the body surface. Peaks and zero crossings of the potential propagate along the fish's body, and there is no point where the potential is always zero. The EOD differs significantly from a sinusoid over at least one third of the body and tail. A qualitative comparison between fish showed that each individual had a unique spatiotemporal pattern of the EOD potential on its body. The potential waveforms have been assembled into high temporal and spatial resolution maps which show the dynamics of the EOD. Animation sequences and Macintosh software are available by anonymous ftp (; cd/pub/ElectricFish). We interpret the EOD maps in terms of ramifications on electric organ control and electroreception. The electrocytes comprising the electric organ do not all fire in unison, indicating that the command pathway is not synchronized overall. The maps suggest that electroreceptors in different regions fulfill different computational roles in electroreception. Receptor mechanisms may exist to make use of the phase information or harmonic content of the EOD, so that both spatial and temporal patterns could contribute information useful for electrolocation and communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-491
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 1 1993


  • Apteronotus leptorhynchus
  • Electric organ discharge
  • Electrolocation
  • Electroreception
  • Weakly electric fish

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Phase and amplitude maps of the electric organ discharge of the weakly electric fish, Apteronotus leptorhynchus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this