Sometimes it’s not just what you’re communicating, it’s how you communicate it.

Pausing for effect, for example, can help get your point across.

Humans know this, but apparently so do some kinds of fish.


They’re called mormyrids, and they communicate electrically.

They have muscles that generate electrical fields that they can use to give off discharges and sense those of other fish.

And they can apparently use these for some complex communication.

Fish can even figure out where they rank socially through these pulses!

According to newly published research from Washington University in St. Louis, mormyrids that are about to give off a big burst of electric pulses, meaning a large amount of information, will pause first.

And the fish respond best to information that’s delivered after a pause.

The researchers say they’re responding to pauses the way humans do when we’re speaking.

When we hear a lot of information at once, we experience synaptic depression – the synapses in our brains feel busy.

Pauses give synapses a chance to reset and prepare for the next bit of information – even if the information is a fish going zzzzt.


Sometimes you can communicate a lot with nothing at all.

Artist Salvatore Garau just created a sculpture that’s made only of “air and spirit.”

The piece called “I am” sold for 15,000 euros.

He says the art needs space to be exhibited, but no special lighting or temperature control, since you can’t see it.

Maybe he’ll do a portrait of John Cena next?

Electric fish — and humans — pause before communicating key points (Washington University in St. Louis)

The Invisible statues of Salvatore Garau (Weird Universe)

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Photo by mat_n via Flickr/Creative Commons