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A time-comparison circuit in the electric fish midbrain. II. Functional morphology

CE Carr, L Maler, B Taylor
1986 Journal of Neuroscience  
The weakly electric fish Eigenmanniu is able to detect temporal disparities as small as 400 nsec between two signals from different parts of the body surface (Carr et al., 1986) . The elements of this time-comparison circuit have been identified by EM reconstruction of its component cells. Information about the timing of the zero-crossing of signals on each area of the body surface is coded in phase-coder receptors, a subset of tuberous electroreceptors. Electroreceptors on the body surface are
more » ... he body surface are innervated by primary afferents with their central termination on the spherical cells of the medullary electrosensory lateral line lobe. These cells project to lamina VI of the midbrain torus, a structure similar to the inferior colliculus. Afferents entering lamina VI form a very restricted terminal arbor in which they synapse on the three cell types of this lamina. Each afferent makes gap-junction synapses on one or two giant cell somata and morphologically mixed synapses on the distal dendrites of two types of small cell. The afferent terminals thus encode the timing of the electric signal on a local patch of the body surface, forming a somatotopic map of the body surface in lamina VI. The giant cells are adendritic and their axonal arbor is such as to distribute timing information originating from one part of the body surface throughout lamina VI, so that each region of lamina VI receives information about the timing of zero-crossings from the entire body surface from giant cells, as well as information from a local portion of the body surface from the afferent terminals. The giant cells terminate exclusively on the cell bodies of the small cells of lamina VI, shown to be sensitive to small temporal disparities by Heiligenberg and Rose (1985) . Thus, each small cell receives a single synapse on its soma from a giant cell that conveys phase-coding information from some portion of the body surface and receives local phase-coding input onto its dendrites from spherical cell afferents. The sensitivity of the small cells to temporal disparities appears to be conferred by their segregation of inputs from two different parts of the body surface onto dendrites and soma, respectively. We propose that the dendritic input acts as a delay line, and the small cell fires maximally when the inputs from the dendrites and the giant cell input onto the soma coincide. Behavioral experiments have shown that the weakly electric fish Eigenmannia is able to detect temporal disparities of less than 0.5 msec between two signals from different areas of its body
doi:10.1523/jneurosci.06-05-01372.1986 pmid:3711985 fatcat:e6izgwdgxvhh7f3zx2i5rl7lj4