TitleUltrafast traveling wave dominates the electric organ discharge of Apteronotus leptorhynchus: an inverse modelling study.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsShifman, Aaron R., Andre Longtin, and John E. Lewis
JournalSci Rep
Date Published2015

Identifying and understanding the current sources that give rise to bioelectric fields is a fundamental problem in the biological sciences. It is very difficult, for example, to attribute the time-varying features of an electroencephalogram recorded from the head surface to the neural activity of specific brain areas; model systems can provide important insight into such problems. Some species of fish actively generate an oscillating (c. 1000 Hz) quasi-dipole electric field to communicate and sense their environment in the dark. A specialized electric organ comprises neuron-like cells whose collective signal underlies this electric field. As a step towards understanding the detailed biophysics of signal generation in these fish, we use an anatomically-detailed finite-element modelling approach to reverse-engineer the electric organ signal over one oscillation cycle. We find that the spatiotemporal profile of current along the electric organ constitutes a travelling wave that is well-described by two spatial Fourier components varying in time. The conduction velocity of this wave is faster than action potential conduction in any known neuronal axon (>200 m/s), suggesting that the spatiotemporal features of high-frequency electric organ discharges are not constrained by the conduction velocities of spinal neuron pathways.

Alternate JournalSci Rep
PubMed ID26514932
PubMed Central IDPMC4626797