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Phys Biol. 2005 Mar;2(1):23-8.

Temporal analysis of moving DC electric fields in aquatic media.

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Institute of Zoology, University of Bonn, Poppelsdorfer Schloss, 53115 Bonn, Germany.


Many aquatic vertebrates can sense the weak electric fields generated by other animals and may also sense geoelectric or electromagnetic phenomena for use in orientation. All these sources generate stationary (dc) fields. In addition, fields from animals are modulated by respiration and other body movements. Since electroreceptors are insensitive to a pure dc field, it has been suggested that the ac modulation carries most of the relevant information for electrosensory animals. However, in a natural situation pure dc fields are rare since any relative movement between source and receiver will transform a dc field into a time varying signal. In this paper, we will describe the properties of such signals and how they are filtered at the first stage of electrosensory information processing in the brain. We will show that the signal perceived by an animal traversing a dc electric field contains all the information necessary to reconstruct the distance to the source and that the signal conditioning algorithms are perfectly adapted to preserve such information.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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