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Behav Brain Res. 1987 Jul;25(1):75-81.

Inter-male aggressive signals in weakly electric fish are modulated by monoamines.


Apteronotus leptorhynchus is a gymnotid fish producing a constant high frequency electric organ discharge (EOD). Males of this species use transient increases in EOD frequency (chirps) as aggressive signals. They will also shift the frequency of their EOD away from the similar frequency of a nearby conspecific in order to protect their ability to electrolocate (jamming avoidance response, JAR). Monoamines have been implicated as modulatory agents for various sensorimotor and affective systems, including aggressive behaviour. Since these monoamines are present in the brain of this fish (unpublished observation), we have used these simple and quantifiable behaviours to study the role of monoamines, with special emphasis on possible specific effects on aggressive signalling (chirps). When serotonin (0.1 microgram) is injected directly into the ventricle of these fish it briefly inhibits chirping (aggression) without inhibiting the JAR; this is consistent with the hypothesis that, in mammals, serotonin inhibits aggressive behaviour. Noradrenaline (0.1 microgram) enhances both chirping and the JAR. Dopamine (0.1 microgram) enhances the JAR; it has powerful but inconsistent effects on chirping (inhibition or excitation).

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