Male oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau) acoustically attract females to nesting sites using a boatwhistle call. The rapid speed of sound underwater combined with the close proximity of the otolithic organs makes inner ear interaural time differences an unlikely mechanism to localize sound. To determine the role that the mechanosensory lateral line may play in sound localization, microwire electrodes were bilaterally implanted into the anterior lateral line nerve to record neural responses to vibrational stimuli. Highest spike rates and strongest phase-locking occurred at distances close to the fish and decreased as the stimulus was moved further from the fish. Bilateral anterior lateral line neuromasts displayed differential directional sensitivity to incoming vibrational stimuli, which suggests the potential for the lateral line to be used for sound localization in the near field. The present study also demonstrates that the spatially separated neuromasts of the toadfish may provide sufficient time delays between sensory organs for determining sound localization cues. Multimodal sensory input processing through both the inner ear (far field) and lateral line (near field) may allow for effective sound localization in fish.
- Sensory system