Heiligenberg's research describes the behaviour of one species, the jamming avoidance response in the electric fish Eigenmannia, providing data that documents the first vertebrate example of the workings of the entire behavioural system from sensory input to motor output. "Neural Nets in Electric Fish" presents the principles and results that have emerged from this programme. Heiligenberg's introduction familiarizes the reader with the unusual sensory modality electroreception, demonstrating the rationale and the motive behind the research. The text, which includes many pedagogical graphs, takes up the behavioural work done in the early 1980s, from explorations of peripheral receptors, the hindbrain, the midbrain, and finally diencephalon, to the most recent studies of motor output. The book describes Heiligenberg's analysis of the complex nature of the electrical stimulus delivered to Eigenmannia during jamming avoidance, and explains the two-parameter notation he uses to represent the different stages in information processing, giving many examples of the notation's power.
The book relates all known behavioural phenomena of the jamming avoidance response to specific properties of the underlying neural network organization and draws parallels between the electric sense and other sensory processing systems, such as the barn owl's sound localization system, motion detection systems in vision, and bat echolocation.
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd