The adductor muscles of the pectoral fins of the hatchetfish Gasteropelecus are innervated by bilateral pools of about 40 motoneurons which lie primarily in the first spinal segment. A pair of giant fibers on each side of the medulla send processes ventroposteriorly to the motoneuron pools. Electrophysiological evidence indicates that giant fibers are presynaptic to ipsilateral motoneurons, but not to contralateral ones. Transmission across the giant fiber, motoneuron synapse is electrically mediated as is indicated by direct measurement of electrotonic spread in either direction across the synapse, and by the extremely short latency of the giant fiber postsynaptic potentials (PSP's) in the motoneuron. The coupling resistance across the synapse was calculated from measurements of input and transfer resistance. The coupling resistance rectifies in such a way as to facilitate spread of depolarization from giant fiber to motoneuron, and to oppose transmission in the opposite direction. As a consequence of rectification, the giant fiber PSP in a motoneuron is augmented by hyperpolarization of the motoneuron. The coupling resistance calculated on the basis of this effect is in good agreement with calculations from input and transfer resistance data. Rectification at the electrotonic synapses may permit the motoneurons to act in small swimming movements as well as to fire synchronously in an extremely fast escape reflex mediated by Mauthner and giant fibers.

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