Frequency response of the lateral-line organ of Xenopus laevis

Pflugers Arch. 1978 Jul 18;375(2):167-75. doi: 10.1007/BF00584240.


The stimulus response relation of the epidermal lateral-line organ of Xenopus laevis was studied by recording activity of single afferent nerve fibres in isolated preparations. Linear frequency response analysis over a frequency range of 0.1--100Hz was performed under steady-state conditions, using small amplitude, sinusoidal water displacements produced by a glass sphere at a short distance from the skin. Period histograms of afferent nerve activity were computed, and amplitude, phase and mean activity of the response were determined by means of Fourier analysis. A standardization procedure at the start of each experiment made scaling of the frequency responses of different preparations unnecessary. The results show that for small stimulus amplitudes the response of the lateral-line organ over the whole range of frequencies studied can adequately be described as a modulation of the spontaneous activity. The amplitude of the response is proportional to the stimulus amplitude, and the phase of the response is independent of stimulus amplitude. The lateral-line organ of Xenopus laevis can thus be regarded as a linear system for stimuli which produce modulation of the spontaneous activity. The frequency response demonstrates unequivocally that the lateral-line organ of Xenopus laevis functions as a water velocity detector. For frequencies of stimulation from 0.1--20Hz the gain increases with a slope of 7.5 dB/oct, and up to 5Hz the response is almost in phase with the water velocity. The extent to which the different transmission steps between stimulus and response will contribute to the frequency response is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / anatomy & histology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Mechanoreceptors / anatomy & histology
  • Mechanoreceptors / physiology*
  • Physical Stimulation
  • Rheology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / anatomy & histology
  • Sensory Receptor Cells / physiology
  • Skin / innervation*
  • Water
  • Xenopus / anatomy & histology
  • Xenopus / physiology*


  • Water