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Dipole Source Encoding and Tracking by the Goldfish Auditory System
Journal of Experimental Biology (2010)
  • Sheryl L. Coombs, Bowling Green State University
  • Richard R. Fay
  • Andreas Elepfandt

In goldfish and other otophysans, the Weberian ossicles mechanically link the saccule of the inner ear to the anterior swimbladder chamber (ASB). These structures are correlated with enhanced sound-pressure sensitivity and greater sensitivity at high frequencies (600-2000 Hz). However, surprisingly little is known about the potential impact of the ASB on other otolithic organs and about how auditory responses are modulated by discrete sources that change their location or orientation with respect to the ASB. In this study, saccular and lagenar nerve fiber responses and conditioned behaviors of goldfish were measured to a small, low-frequency (50 Hz) vibrating sphere (dipole) source as a function of its location along the body and its orientation with respect to the ASB. Conditioned behaviors and saccular nerve fiber activity exhibited response characteristics nearly identical to those measured from a hydrophone in the same relative position as the ASB. By contrast, response patterns from lagena fibers could not be predicted by pressure inputs to the ASB. Deflation of the ASB abolished the characteristic spatial response pattern of saccular but not lagena fibers. These results show that: (1) the lagena is not driven by ASB-mediated pressure inputs to the ear; (2) the ASB-saccule pathway dominates behavioral responsiveness, operating effectively at frequencies as low as 50 Hz; and (3) behavioral and neural (saccular) responses are strongly modulated by the position and orientation of the dipole with respect to the ASB.

  • saccule,
  • lagena,
  • primary afferents,
  • swimbladder,
  • conditioned behavior,
  • Weberian ossicles
Publication Date
October 15, 2010
Publisher Statement
The original published version of this article may be found at
Citation Information
Sheryl L. Coombs, Richard R. Fay and Andreas Elepfandt. "Dipole Source Encoding and Tracking by the Goldfish Auditory System" Journal of Experimental Biology Vol. 213 Iss. 20 (2010)
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