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Joseph A. Bastian

College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Biology, The University of Oklahoma website wordmark
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Joseph A. Bastian

George Lynn Cross Research Professor Emeritus
405-325-5271 (Phone)
405-325-6202 (Fax)
RH 111

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My current research interests center around the central nervous processing of electrosensory information in weakly electric fish. The goals of this work are: To achieve an understanding of the ways information received over this unique sensory system is processed in the central nervous system, and compare the behavior of specific brain structures, particularly the cerebellum, of these lower vertebrates with that of the same brain structures of higher vertebrates.

The fish that are used in these studies continuously generate an electric field around their body. A large population of receptors specialized to detect changes in this electric field are found scattered over the surface of the animal. Changes in the electric field result from the presence of other fish or objects near to the fish. So the entire system consisting of the electrical generator, the fish's electric organ, and the electrical receiver; the electroreceptors on the fish's skin, comprise an object detecting device similar to the sonar system employed by bats. Systems like these are called active sensory systems since the energy that is detected by the receiver is broadcast by the animals themselves.


  • Chacron, M.J., Maler, L., Bastian, J. 2005. Feedback and feedforward control of frequency tuning to naturalistic stimuli. J Neurosci 25(23):5521-5532.

  • Chacron, M.J., Maler, L., Bastian, J. 2005. Electroreceptor neuron dynamics shape information transmission.Nat Neurosci 8:673-678.

  • Oswald, A.M., Chacron, M.J., Doiron, B., Bastian, J., Maler, L. 2004. Parallel processing of sensory input by bursts and isolated spikes. J Neurosci 5:4351-4362.

  • Bastian, J., Chacron, M.J., Maler, L. 2004. Plastic and nonplastic pyramidal cells perform unique roles in a network capable of adaptive redundancy reduction. Neuron 41:767-779.

  • Chacron, M.J., Doiron, B., Maler, L., Longtin, A., Bastian, J. 2003. Non-classical receptive field mediates switch in a sensory neuron's frequency tuning. Nature 423:77-81.

  • Doiron, B., Chacron, M.J., Maler, L., Longtin, A., Bastian, J. 2003. Inhibitory feedback required for network oscillatory responses to communication but not prey stimuli. Nature 421:539-543.

  • Bastian, J., Chacron, M.J., Maler, L. 2002. Receptive field organization determines pyramidal cell stimulus-encoding capability and spatial stimulus selectivity. J Neurosci 22:4577-4590.

  • Bastian, J., Heiligenberg, W. 1980. Phase-sensitive midbrain neurons in Eigenmannia: neural correlates of the jamming avoidance response. Science 209:828-831.