Sonic/vocal motor pathways in squirrelfish (Teleostei, Holocentridae)

Brain Behav Evol. 2000 Jun;56(1):14-28. doi: 10.1159/000006674.


Similar to many teleost fish, squirrelfish (family Holocentridae) produce vocalizations by the contraction of muscles that lead to vibration of the swimbladder. We used biotinylated compounds to identify the position and extent of vocal motor neurons in comparison to additional motor neuron groups, namely those of red and white dorsal epaxial muscle and opercular muscle that are located adjacent to or near the sonic muscle. The sonic motor nucleus (SMN) was located in the caudal medulla and rostral spinal cord in a ventrolateral position with dendrites extending dorsally in a dense bundle along the lateral edge of the medulla and axons exiting via ventral occipital nerve roots. Transneuronal transport of biocytin identified premotor neurons within the SMN and in the medially adjacent reticular formation that projected to the contralateral SMN and more rostrally to the octavolateralis efferent nucleus and nucleus praeeminentialis, suggesting interactions between vocal and octavolateralis systems as seen in other teleosts. Motor neurons innervating the red and white dorsal muscle formed a loose aggregate in the dorsal motor column, adjacent to the medial longitudinal fasciculus, sending fibers bilaterally throughout the spinal cord with axons exiting via ventral spinal nerve roots. Opercular motor neurons were located within the facial motor nucleus. The anatomical characteristics of the SMN of squirrelfish, a representative member of the order Beryciformes, are similar to those of representative members of the closely related order Scorpaeniformes, but diverge from the SMN of more distantly related orders of paracanthopterygiian and ostariophysan teleosts. These results therefore suggest a possible homology among the SMNs of acanthopterygiian fishes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Biotin
  • Brain / anatomy & histology
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Muscles / innervation
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Vocalization, Animal / physiology*


  • Biotin