Weakly electric fish are a fascinating and useful animal model system for the
study of how animals use sensory
information to control motor systems.
The National Science Foundation produced a
short video about some of the work that was generously supported by competitive
JW Player goes here
Weakly electric fish are fantastic animal models for studying the
neural mechanisms of behavior due primarily to two adaptations:
The active electrosensory
system has been the traditional focus of study in these animals because the animals
perform electrosensory behaviors in the absence of movement - the behaviors are
therefore massless. This has permited an unparalleled level of analysis of the
neural mechanisms used to control electrosensory behaviors.
- Active electrogenic/electrosensory system
- Ribbon fin locomotion
Ribbon fin locomotion allows the fish to swim backwards and forwards equally well, both
without body bending. We use this ability to examine locomotion in both
controlled setting in the laboratory (refuge tracking) and in unconstrained settings
both in the laboratory and in the wild.
These two adapations interact in interesting and experimentally useful ways.
For example, electrosensory information is critical for locomotion control, and
locomotion determines what sorts of electrosensory information are available to
the fish. Each of the experiments in our research program engages both of these