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

Z. Lu, Z. Xu, W. J. Buchser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


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 ≤ 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. Q 50% 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° 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)923-938
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004


  • Auditory
  • Directional hearing
  • Ear
  • Fish
  • Otolithic organ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Neuroscience(all)


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