Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 103, Issue 3, pp 247–272 | Cite as

Theoretical and experimental approaches to spatial aspects of electrolocation

  • Walter Heiligenberg


The shape of an electric fish's field, within an aquarium of finite size, was calculated by numerical computer simulation (Figs. 3, 4). An object differing in conductivity from the surrounding water distorts the electric field of the fish. The associated changes in potential on the animal's body surface are monitored by electroreceptors and thus represent the “electric image” of the object (Fig. 6). The “intensity” of this image decays approximately with a negative power function of the distance between object and fish (Fig. 11). Body geometry, such as an elongated tail, as well as resistances of the interior body and skin are of prime importance for electrolocation performance (Figs. 7, 8, 10). Some theoretical conclusions are supported by neurophysiological and behavioral data (Figs. 12, 13), others still have to be tested experimentally.


Computer Simulation Numerical Computer Body Surface Experimental Approach Power Function 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Walter Heiligenberg
    • 1
  1. 1.Neurobiology Unit, Scripps Institution of OceanographyUCSDLa JollaUSA

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