Auditory role of lateral trunk channels in cobitid fishes

J Comp Physiol A. 2000 Mar;186(3):279-85. doi: 10.1007/s003590050428.


In cobitid fishes the anterior part of the swimbladder is encapsulated by bone to varying extent. This might diminish the auditory sensitivity of these otophysine fishes by reducing the vibrations of the swimbladder wall in the sound field. However, according to prior studies the auditory thresholds of the cobitid Botia modesta is similar to that of other otophysine fishes. According to anatomical investigation B. modesta has a cranial encapsulation of the anterior part of the swimbladder (camera aerea Weberiana) as expected and in addition special channels stretching laterally from the swimbladder to the outer body wall. These lateral trunk channels are filled with fat and lymph. They form a muscle-free acoustic window beneath the skin, which could be demonstrated by measuring the auditory brainstem response at 400 Hz, 800 Hz, 1500 Hz, and 3000 Hz. Filling the lateral trunk channels with wettex (cotton/rayon staple) resulted in an increase of the auditory thresholds by 13.6-17.6 dB, indicating mechanical damping of the swimbladder. Our experiments demonstrate that the intact lateral trunk channels enhance the hearing sensitivity of cobitid fishes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Sacs / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Vibration