Coding of acoustic particle motion by utricular fibers in the sleeper goby, Dormitator latifrons

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2004 Nov;190(11):923-38. doi: 10.1007/s00359-004-0550-3. Epub 2004 Aug 13.


It is unknown whether the fish utricle contributes to directional hearing. Here, we report response properties of single utricular fibers in a teleost fish ( Dormitator latifrons) to linear accelerations at various stimulus frequencies and axes. Characteristic frequencies ranged from < or =50-400 Hz (median=80 Hz), and best frequencies shifted from 50 to 250 Hz with stimulus level. Best sensitivity of utricular fibers was distributed from -70 to -40 dB re: 1 g (mean=-52 dB), which is about 30 dB less sensitive than saccular fibers. Q50% fell between 0.16 and 11.50 (mean=2.04) at 15 dB above threshold. We observed temporal response patterns of entrained phase-locking, double phase-locking, phase-locked bursting, and non-phase-locked bursting. Most utricular fibers were directionally selective with various directional response profiles, and directional selectivity was stimulus-level dependent. Horizontal best-response axes were distributed in a 152 degrees range while mid-sagittal best-response axes were clustered around the fish longitudinal axis, which is consistent with the horizontal orientation of the utricle and morphological polarizations of utricular hair cells. Therefore, results of this study indicate that the utricle in this vertebrate plays an auditory role in azimuth and that utricular fibers extend the response dynamic range of this species in directional hearing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods*
  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Audiometry, Evoked Response / methods
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / physiology*
  • Hearing / physiology*
  • Particle Size
  • Physical Stimulation / methods
  • Saccule and Utricle / physiology*
  • Sound Localization / physiology*