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Lateral line sensitivity in free-swimming toadfish Opsanus tau [RESEARCH ARTICLE]



Allen F. Mensinger, Jacey C. Van Wert, and Loranzie S. Rogers

A longstanding question in aquatic animal sensory physiology is the impact of self-generated movement on lateral line sensitivity. One hypothesis is that efferent modulation of the sensory hair cells cancels self-generated noise and allows fish to sample their surroundings while swimming. In this study, microwire electrodes were chronically implanted into the anterior lateral line nerve of oyster toadfish and neural activity was monitored during forward movement. Fish were allowed to freely swim or were moved by a tethered sled. In all cases, neural activity increased during movement with no evidence of efferent modulation. The anterior lateral line of moving fish responded to a vibrating sphere or the tail oscillations of a robotic fish, indicating that the lateral line also remains sensitive to outside stimulus during self-generated movement. The results suggest that during normal swim speeds, lateral line neuromasts are not saturated and retain the ability to detect external stimuli without efferent modulation.

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