The present study describes a measurement-based model of electric image generation in the weakly electric mormyrid fish Gnathonemus petersii. Measurements of skin impedance, internal resistivity and fish body dimensions have been used to generate an electrical-equivalent model of the fish and to calculate electrical images and equivalent dipole sources for elementary resistive objects. These calculations allow us to understand how exafferent and reafferent signals are sensed by electroreceptors. An object's electric image consists of the modulation of the transcutaneous voltage profile generated by the fish's own discharge. The results suggest a set of rules for electrolocation: (1) the side of the fish where modulation is larger indicates the side on which the object is situated; (2) the object's position in the electroreceptive field is indicated by the point of maximum modulation of the transcutaneous voltage; (3) the degree of focus of the image indicates the distance to the object. In addition, center-surround opposition originating at pre-receptor level is proposed. Both experimental measurements and modeling indicate that fish skin impedance is relatively low (400-11 000 <IMG src="/images/symbols/capomega.gif" WIDTH="13" HEIGHT="13" ALIGN="BOTTOM" NATURALSIZEFLAG="3">cm<SUP>2</SUP>) and mainly resistive. This low skin impedance appears to enhance the local electric organ discharge modulation, the center-surround effect, the signal-to-noise ratio for electrolocation and the active space for electrocommunication.

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