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Mechanisms of Aquatic Object Specification and Response

Abstract

In the struggle for survival in a complex and dynamic environment, animals such as fish have developed a multitude of sensory systems. Sensory modalities form the link between events in the outside world and the neuronal representation of the very same events in the animal's brain. In order to efficiently realize an impression of the outside world, fish exploit different senses such as vision, audition, and the vestibular system but also more specialized senses such as the lateral-line system or electroreception. In this workshop, we will bring together specialists of lateral line and electroreception – also related by evolution – and their multimodal integration with other senses in the brain (map formation), and of Mauthner cells. Vision and the vestibular as well as the lateral-line system play a key role in the fast escape mechanism (C-start) induced by the Mauthner cells, which are multimodal instigators of extremely fast (< 50 ms) escape reactions. The extremely short escape times pose an extra problem in that full-blown object formation is temporally forbidden. The workshop’s aim is to analyze and discuss, on the basis of new insights regarding map formation and multimodal integration, how an object can be located, even very fast, and specified underwater, and how fish will use this information to create a representation of the object in the brain.  

Goals of the symposium

- to define the current state of knowledge of the electroreceptive and lateral-line sense and their interaction with vision

- to discuss how objects can be defined underwater and, hence, as to how lateral-line and electric sense may encode this information at the sensors level and upwards in the brain

- to discuss how the above sensory senses cooperate in the fast-escape mechanism induced by the Mauthner cell (C-start)

- to bring together German and international specialists of lateral-line and electric sense (theory and experiment); in particular, to discuss how objects are encoded by these two diffusely operating sensory modalities, which activate sensors in a diffuse and hence opposite way to vision, touch, and audition.

We intend to devote a special issue of Biological Cybernetics to aquatic object specification.

The workshop's aim is to analyze and discuss, on the basis of new insights regarding map formation and multimodal integration, how an object can be located, even very fast, and specified underwater, and how fish will use this information to create a representation of the object in the brain. A challenging problem that we can now successfully address since sufficient knowledge about each sensory system alone is now available.

Schedule

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