Bruce A. Carlson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Neurosciences Program
Evolution, Ecology and Population Biology Program
Computational and Systems Biology Program

  • (314) 935-3486

  • (314) 935-3487

  • (314) 935-4432

  • 1137

  • Monsanto Hall Room 415



  • neurophysiology, sensory systems, behavior, evolution, mathematical modeling, neuroanatomy

  • Sensory and Evolutionary Neuroscience

Research Abstract:

Nervous systems evolved to control behavior. One of the primary functions of nervous systems is to receive and process information from the outside world, and then act on that information in ways that maximize survival and reproduction. We employ an integrative approach to understanding animal communication and the evolution of information processing. We are interested in understanding:

How do sensory receptors encode stimuli in the periphery?

How do central sensory pathways extract behaviorally relevant information from peripheral responses?

How does evolutionary change in sensory systems mediate adaptive diversification of perception and behavior?

How does behavior influence ecological interactions and evolutionary processes?

Our work is unique in its application of detailed neurophysiology within a broad comparative framework, and it has implications for our understanding of neural mechanisms for behavior as well as the evolution of behavioral diversity.

Selected Publications:

Baker, C.A., Ma, L., Casareale, C., & Carlson, B.A. (2016) Behavioral and single-neuron sensitivity to millisecond variations in temporally patterned communication signals. The Journal of Neuroscience 36: 8985-9000.

Vélez, A., & Carlson, B.A. (2016) Detection of transient synchrony across oscillating receptors by the central electrosensory system of mormyrid fish. eLife 5: e16851. PMCID: PMC4954753

Carlson, B.A. (2016) Differences in electrosensory anatomy and social behavior in an area of sympatry between two species of mormyrid electric fishes. Journal of Experimental Biology 219: 31-43. PMID: 26567347

Baker CA, Huck KR & Carlson BA (2015) Peripheral sensory coding through oscillatory synchrony in weakly electric fish. eLife 4:e08163. PMCID: PMC4522468

Baker CA & Carlson BA (2014) Short-term depression, temporal summation, and onset inhibition shape interval tuning in midbrain neurons. The Journal of Neuroscience 34:14272-14287. PMCID: PMC4205552

Kohashi T & Carlson BA (2014) A fast BK-type KCa current acts as a postsynaptic modulator of temporal selectivity for communication signals. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 8:286. PMCID: PMC4166317

Ma X, Kohashi T & Carlson BA (2013) Extensive excitatory network interactions shape temporal processing of communication signals in a model sensory system. Journal of Neurophysiology 110:456-469. PMID: 23615550.

Lyons-Warren AM, Kohashi T, Mennerick S & Carlson BA (2013) Detection of submillisecond spike timing differences based on delay-line anticoincidence detection. Journal of Neurophysiology 110:2295-311. PMCID: PMC3841875

Carlson BA (2012) Diversity matters: The importance of comparative studies and the potential for synergy between neuroscience and evolutionary biology. Archives of Neurology 69:987-993. PMID: 22473771

Carlson BA, Hasan SM, Hollmann M, Miller DB, Harmon LJ & Arnegard ME (2011). Brain evolution triggers increased diversification of electric fishes. Science 332:583-586. PMID: 21527711

Last Updated: 8/26/2016 1:58:42 PM

In the genus Paramoryrops (top), electric organ discharges have rapidly evolved, resulting in dramatic differences in signal waveform among closely-related species. In the genus Petrocephalus (bottom), electric organ discharges have evolved much more slowly, resulting in similar waveforms among species. This difference in signal diversification rates resulted from evolutionary change in the electro-sensory and electro-motor systems that these fish use to communicate with each other. The duration of each pulse ranges from about 500 microseconds in various Petrocephalus species to nearly 10 milliseconds in Paramormyrops gabonensis.
Back To Top

Follow us: