Behavioral detection of 60‐Hz electric fields by rats

Sander Stern, Victor G. Laties, Charles V. Stancampiano, Christopher Cox, John O. de Lorge

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Rats partially deprived of food were trained individually to press a lever in the presence of a vertical, 60‐Hz electric field and not to press in its absence. Correct detections that occurred during brief, 3‐ or 4‐s trials occasionally produced a food pellet. The probability of detecting the field was found to increase as field strength increased. The threshold of detection, ie, the field strength required for detections at a probability of 0.5 after correction for errors, was generally between 4 and 10 kV/m. The range of field strengths between almost zero and almost 100% correctness of detection was approximately 8 kV/m. A logistic function provided a good description of the increase in the detection probability with increasing field strength. These performances occurred reliably in 19 rats, some of which were studied for 2 years. Control procedures showed that the behavior required that the rat be in the electric field; the behavior was not controlled by any of several potentially confounding variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-247
Number of pages33
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1983
Externally publishedYes


  • 60‐Hz
  • detection
  • electric field
  • psychophysics
  • rats

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Physiology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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