Acoustic response properties of lagenar nerve fibers in the sleeper goby, Dormitator latifrons

Z. Lu, Z. Xu, W. J. Buchser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Auditory and vestibular functions of otolithic organs vary among vertebrate taxa. The saccule has been considered a major hearing organ in many fishes. However, little is known about the auditory role of the lagena in fishes. In this study we analyzed directional and frequency responses from single lagenar fibers of Dormitator latifrons to linear accelerations that simulate underwater acoustic particle motion. Characteristic frequencies of the lagenar fibers fell into two groups: ≤ 50 Hz and 80-125 Hz. We observed various temporal response patterns: strong phase-locking, double phase-locking, phase-locked bursting, and non-phase-locked bursting. Some bursting responses have not been previously observed in vertebrate otolithic nerve fibers. Lagenar fibers could respond to accelerations as small as 1.1 mm s-2. Like saccular fibers, lagenar fibers were directionally responsive and decreased directional selectivity with stimulus level. Best response axes of the lagenar fibers clustered around the lagenar longitudinal axis in the horizontal plane, but distributed in a diversity of axes in the mid-sagittal plane, which generally reflect morphological polarizations of hair cells in the lagena. We conclude that the lagena of D. latifrons plays a role in sound localization in elevation, particularly at high stimulus intensities where responses of most saccular fibers are saturated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-905
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2003


  • Directional selectivity
  • Ear
  • Hearing
  • Otolithic organ
  • Tuning


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