Journal of comparative physiology

, Volume 128, Issue 3, pp 235–240 | Cite as

Active phase coupling in electric fish: Behavioral control with microsecond precision

  • G. Langner
  • H. Scheich


Pairs of very high frequency electric fish from South America (Sternarchorhynchus sp. andSternarchorhamphus sp.) synchronize their discharge and finally engage in phase coupling which is maintained over minutes (Fig. 2). This manoeuvre, called Active Phase Coupling (APC), may be as precise as a few microseconds phase jitter over half a min (Fig. 5). Phase coupling is also accomplished to other fish and to stimuli the frequency of which is several hundred Hz away (Fig. 3). In this case the EOD of the responding fish and the stimulus finally are higher harmonics of a common fundamental and phase coupling is to every nth wave of the stimulus. The APC is more complex a behavior than the known Jamming Avoidance Response. Its social significance is yet to be determined. It involves a neuronal control loop with at least 4 synapses some of which are probably electrotonic.


Active Phase Control Loop Behavioral Control Avoidance Response High Harmonic 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Langner
    • 1
    • 2
  • H. Scheich
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut für Zoologie der Technischen Hochschule DarmstadtDarmstadtFederal Republic of Germany
  2. 2.INPAManausBrazil

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