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Front. Integr. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnint.2019.00039

Encoding and perception of electro-communication signals in Apteronotus leptorhynchus

  • 1Department of Physiology, McGill University, Canada

Animal communication plays an essential role in triggering diverse behaviors. It is believed in this regard that signal production by a sender and its perception by a receiver is co-evolving in order to have beneficial effects such as to ensure that conspecifics remain sensitive to these signals. However, in order to give appropriate responses to a communication signal, the receiver has to first detect and interpret it in a meaningful way. The detection of communication signals can be limited under some circumstances, for example when the signal is masked by the background noise in which it occurs (e.g., the cocktail-party problem). Moreover, some signals are very alike despite having different meanings making it hard to discriminate between them. How the central nervous system copes with these tasks and problems is a central question in systems neuroscience. Gymnotiform weakly electric fish pose an interesting system to answer these questions for various reasons: 1) they use a variety of communication signals called “chirps” during different behavioral encounters; 2) the central physiology of the electrosensory system is well known; 3) most importantly, these fish give reliable behavioral responses to artificial stimuli that resemble natural communication signals, making it possible to uncover the neural mechanisms that lead to the observed behaviors.

Keywords: electro-communication, chirps, weakly electric fish, coding, Perception

Received: 29 May 2019; Accepted: 31 Jul 2019.

Edited by:

Michael R. Markham, University of Oklahoma, United States

Reviewed by:

Felix Scholkmann, University Hospital Zürich, Switzerland
Elias Manjarrez, Meritorious Autonomous University of Puebla, Mexico  

Copyright: © 2019 Metzen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Michael G. Metzen, McGill University, Department of Physiology, Montreal, H3G 1Y6, Québec, Canada, michael.metzen@mcgill.ca