In this paper, we apply a real time activity-dependent protocol to study how freely swimming weakly electric fish produce and process the timing of their own electric signals. Specifically, we address this study in the elephant fish, Gnathonemus petersii, an animal that uses weak discharges to locate obstacles or food while navigating, as well as for electro-communication with conspecifics. To investigate how the inter pulse intervals vary in response to external stimuli, we compare the response to a simple closed-loop stimulation protocol and the signals generated without electrical stimulation. The activity-dependent stimulation protocol explores different stimulus delivery delays relative to the fish’s own electric discharges. We show that there is a critical time delay in this closed-loop interaction, as the largest changes in inter pulse intervals occur when the stimulation delay is below 100 ms. We also discuss the implications of these findings in the context of information processing in weakly electric fish.
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