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J Comp Neurol. 1988 Oct 1;276(1):113-31.

Anatomical and functional organization of the prepacemaker nucleus in gymnotiform electric fish: the accommodation of two behaviors in one nucleus.

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla 92093.


The diencephalic prepacemaker nucleus (PPn) of gymnotiform electric fish projects to the medullary pacemaker nucleus and modulates its regular firing frequency. Each firing of the pacemaker, in turn, drives an electric organ discharge (EOD). Two types of PPn neurons were retrogradely labeled from the pacemaker with HRP in Eigenmannia and Apteronotus. In both species, smaller ovoidal cells were found in the dorsomedial part of the PPn (PPn-G), and larger multipolar cells were found in the ventrolateral part of the PPn (PPn-C). This morphological distinction between the two subnuclei in the PPn was paralleled by a functional dichotomy. Microiontophoresis of L-glutamate in the PPn-G of both species elicited slow and gradual accelerations of EOD frequency characterized by a time constant on the order of seconds. The elicited frequency modulations were similar to those observed during the jamming avoidance response and during courtship. Glutamate stimulation of the PPn-C, in contrast, produced fast and abrupt frequency modulations characterized by a time constant on the order of milliseconds. These abrupt modulations resembled "chirps" observed during courtship and aggression. Similar behavior was produced by intracellular current injection into a PPn-C neuron of Apteronotus, and intracellular labeling of this neuron with Lucifer Yellow revealed a multipolar PPn-C neuron similar to those retrogradely labeled with HRP.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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