Multimodal Sensory Input in the Utricle and Lateral Line of the Toadfish, Opsanus tau. Academic Article uri icon


  • The utricular otolith and the mechanosensory lateral line of the toadfish, Opsanus tau, were investigated for sensitivity to multimodal sensory input by recording neural activity from free swimming fish. The utricle was sensitive to horizontal body movement, and displayed broad sensitivity to low frequency (80-200 Hz) sound. The lateral line was sensitive to water currents, swimming, prey movements, and sound with maximal sensitivity at 100 Hz. Both systems showed directional sensitivity to pure tones and toadfish vocalizations, indicating potential for sound localization. Thus, toadfish possess two hair cell based sensory systems that integrate information from disparate sources. However, swimming movements or predation strikes can saturate each system and it is unclear the effect that self-generated movement has on sensitivity. It is hypothesized that the toadfish's strategy of short distance swim movements allows it to sample the acoustical environment while static. Further study is needed to determine the integration of the two systems and if they are able to segregate and/or integrate multimodal sensory input.

publication date

  • 2016