Learning From Electric Fish

Weakly electric fish knifefish produce and detect electric fields, and they use these electric fields in social communication and to detect objects. Johns Hopkins University neuroethologist Eric Fortune has traveled to Ecuador to study the fish in their native habitat. Back at Johns Hopkins University, research collaborators use Fortune's field data to help with their observations and experiments in the lab. With support from the National Science Foundation, they are studying the knifefish to learn more about how the brains of animals work to control their behavior. Engineers at Northwestern University are developing a highly agile robot based on the electric fish that could some day monitor the health of coral reefs or navigate the murky waters of an oil spill.