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Evoked bradycardia as response criterion for the detection of electrical stimuli in catfish

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Heart rate deceleration (HRD) after exposure to novel stimuli is part of the orienting reflex, and can be used as a tool to investigate the susceptibility of various organisms to sensory stimuli. HRD as response criterion was used in unrestrained catfish, Ameiurus (Ictalurus) nebulosus (Lesueur, 1819) to investigate its susceptibility to electrical stimuli. HRD in catfish occurs after stimulation with light, mechanical stimuli, and electrical stimuli. HRD shows habituation and correlates with stimulus strength. The response to sinusoidal electrical stimuli from 70 to 700 μV/cm p-p was determined in the range from 0.1 to 1000 Hz. Using HRD as response criterion we found that at 85 μV/cm catfish react to stimuli from 0.1 to 3 Hz. In the absence of stimuli, the heart rate develops an ultradian rhythm with periods of 7 to 15 min. About twice a day cardiac arrest of 1 min occurs. During anaesthesia oscillations with a period of about 1 min are recorded. Comparison of this study with others supports the notion that there exist at least two neural channels for processing electrical stimuli. One channel is involved in predation, namely processing the fast potential changes accompanying the passage of a bioelectric dipole; another is involved in processing uniform DC fields used for navigation.

Affiliations: 1: Functional Neurobiology, Utrecht University, Padualaan 8, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands;, Email: r.c.peters@uu.n; 2: Veterinary Physiology, Utrecht University, Padualaan 8, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands; 3: Functional Neurobiology, Utrecht University, Padualaan 8, 3584 CH Utrecht, The Netherlands


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