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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2015 Dec;16(12):733-44. doi: 10.1038/nrn4037. Epub 2015 Nov 12.

Contrast coding in the electrosensory system: parallels with visual computation.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, 451 Smyth Road, Ottawa, Ontario K1H 8M5, Canada.
Department of Physics, University of Ottawa, 150 Louis Pasteur, Ottawa, Ontario K1N 6N5, Canada.
Center for Neural Dynamics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


To identify and interact with moving objects, including other members of the same species, an animal's nervous system must correctly interpret patterns of contrast in the physical signals (such as light or sound) that it receives from the environment. In weakly electric fish, the motion of objects in the environment and social interactions with other fish create complex patterns of contrast in the electric fields that they produce and detect. These contrast patterns can extend widely over space and time and represent a multitude of relevant features, as is also true for other sensory systems. Mounting evidence suggests that the computational principles underlying contrast coding in electrosensory neural networks are conserved elements of spatiotemporal processing that show strong parallels with the vertebrate visual system.

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