The electrophysiology of electric organs of marine electric fishes: I. Properties of electroplaques of torpedo nobiliana

M. V.L. Bennett, M. Wurzel, H. Grundfest

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Single electroplaques of Torpedo nobiliana have been studied with microelectrode recording. Direct evidence is presented that the only electrogenically reactive membrane of the cells is on the innervated surface and that this membrane is electrically inexcitable. Responses are not evoked by depolarizing currents applied to this membrane, but only by stimulating the innervating nerve fibers. The responses arise after a latency of I to 3 reset. This latency is not affected by large depolarizing or hyperpolarizing changes in membrane potential. Various properties that have been theoretically associated with electrically inexcitable responses have been also demonstrated to occur in the electroplaques. The neurally evoked response is not propagated actively in the membrane and may have different amplitudes and forms in closely adjacent regions. The maximal responses frequently are slightly larger than the recorded resting potential but the apparent small overshoot may be due to difficulty in recording the full resting potential. The responses are subject to electrochemical gradation and appear inverted in sign on applying strong outward currents across the innervated membrane. This membrane is cholinoceptive and shows marked desensitization. The membrane of the uninnervated surface has a very low resistance, a factor that aids maximum output of current during the discharge of the electric organ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)757-804
Number of pages48
JournalJournal of General Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 1 1961


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology

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