"Bruce Carlson and his colleagues from Washington University in St Louis, USA, explain that electric fish not only convey information about themselves in the structure of each electric pulse but also vary the duration of the interval between pulses to communicate their behavioural state, such as whether they are subordinate or dominant and how aggressive they are (p. 2365). All sensory information is encoded by neurons into patterns of electrical spikes. In the case of electric signal perception by mormyrids, information is encoded by specialised receptors known as knollenorgans into both spike timing differences between receptors and interspike intervals within receptors. Carlson and his colleagues also describe how two subfamilies of pulse-type African mormyrids differ in their ability to distinguish differences in the waveform of emitted electric signals and they explain that these perceptual differences are due to differences in midbrain structures, as well as differences in the distribution of the knollenorgan receptors on the fish's bodies. The authors conclude by saying, ‘The mormyrid electric communication pathway is a powerful model for integrating mechanistic studies of temporal coding with evolutionary studies of correlated differences in brain and behaviour to investigate neural mechanisms for processing temporal codes.’"
Via Colbert Sesanker