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Keywords:

  • electroreception;
  • neuroethology;
  • pretectum;
  • teleost;
  • thalamus

Abstract

The diencephalic nucleus electrosensorius (nE) of gymnotiform fish comprises a series of finely tuned neuronal filters for control of the jamming avoidance response (JAR) and probably other electromotor tasks as well. The nE receives electrosensory input from the dorsal torus semicircularis (TSd) and octavolateral input from the ventral torus (TSv). The nE, in turn, projects to various hypothalamic and thalamic nuclei, including the prepacemaker nucleus (PPn), which can modulate the frequency of electric organ discharges (EODs) via its unique input to the medullary pacemaker nucleus.

Four subdivisions of the nE can now be recognized: 1) The beat-related area (nEb)---a rostral cluster of tightly packed cells which receives TSd input and projects to the inferior lobe, anterior tuberal nucleus, anterior thalamic nucleus, central posterior thalamic nucleus, and PPn. The nEb contains neurons responsive to beat patterns caused by jamming stimuli. Stimulation of the nEb with L-glutamate, however, fails to induce any EOD-frequency shift. 2) The area causing EOD-frequency rises (nE[UPWARDS ARROW])--a horizontal band of cells at the dorsal aspect of the caudal nE which receives TSd input and projects to the PPn and vicinity and to the cerebellum; nE[UPWARDS ARROW] stimulation induces slow EOD-frequency rises characteristic of the JAR. Responses of these cells to jamming stimuli are not yet known. 3) The area causing EOD-frequency falls (nE[UPWARDS ARROW])--a horizontal band of cells at the ventral aspect of the caudal nE which receives TSd input and projects only to the PPn and vicinity; nE[UPWARDS ARROW] stimulation induces slow EOD-frequency falls characteristic of the JAR. The responses of these cells to jamming stimuli are not yet known. 4) The acousticolateral region (nEar)---a complex medial region of the nE which receives input predominantly from the ventral torus and projects to the inferior lobe, anterior tuberal nucleus, central posterior thalamic nucleus, PPn, and cerebellum; the sensory and motor properties of this region are not known in detail, although auditory and mechanosensory responses have been recorded here. Projections to the PPn and its vicinity suggest direct control of electromotor behaviors by the nE, whereas thalamic and hypothalamic projections may provide a substrate for electrosensory influences on neuroendocrine and motivational control centers.

The optic tectum projects strongly to the pretectum and various other diencephalic nuclei in the vicinity of the nE, but it does not innervate the nE itself. Accordingly, ablation of the tectum does not affect the performance of the JAR.