Dr. Eric S. Fortune, PhD
  Department of Biological Sciences
  New Jersey Institute of Technology
  Newark, NJ 07102-1982 USA
  Tel: +1 443 312 9610, FAX: +1 973 596 5689
  e-mail: eric.fortune@njit.edu

Research program: electric fish
Research program: songbirds

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 research grants:

JW Player goes here

Weakly electric fish are fantastic animal models for studying the neural mechanisms of behavior due primarily to two adaptations:

  1. Active electrogenic/electrosensory system
  2. Ribbon fin locomotion
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.

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 adaptations.

@ericfortunephd 11-Dec-2015