Original Paper

Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 199, Issue 7, pp 583-599

First online:

Time disparity sensitive behavior and its neural substrates of a pulse-type gymnotiform electric fish, Brachyhypopomus gauderio

  • Atsuko MatsushitaAffiliated withDepartment of Evolutionary Studies of Biosystems, Sokendai (The Graduate University for Advanced Studies) Email author 
  • , Grace PyonAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Virginia
  • , Masashi KawasakiAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Virginia

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Roles of the time coding electrosensory system in the novelty responses of a pulse-type gymnotiform electric fish, Brachyhypopomus, were examined behaviorally, physiologically, and anatomically. Brachyhypopomus responded with the novelty responses to small changes (100 μs) in time difference between electrosensory stimulus pulses applied to different parts of the body, as long as these pulses were given within a time period of ~500 μs. Physiological recording revealed neurons in the hindbrain and midbrain that fire action potentials time-locked to stimulus pulses with short latency (500–900 μs). These time-locked neurons, along with other types of neurons, were labeled with intracellular and extracellular marker injection techniques. Light and electron microscopy of the labeled materials revealed neural connectivity within the time coding system. Two types of time-locked neurons, the pear-shaped cells and the large cells converge onto the small cells in a hypertrophied structure, the mesencephalic magnocellular nucleus. The small cells receive a calyx synapse from a large cell at their somata and an input from a pear-shaped cell at the tip of their dendrites via synaptic islands. The small cells project to the torus semicircularis. We hypothesized that the time-locked neural signals conveyed by the pear-shaped cells and the large cells are decoded by the small cells for detection of time shifts occurring across body areas.


Electrosensory system Phase comparison Phase-locked neurons Temporal coding Time coding