The use of evoked potentials to determine sensory sub-modality contributions to acoustic and hydrodynamic sensing

  • Christine S. Kibele
  • John C. Montgomery
  • Craig A. RadfordEmail author
Original Paper


Both the lateral line and the inner ear contribute to near-field dipole source detection in fish. The precise roles these two sensory modalities provide in extracting information about the flow field remain of interest. In this study, evoked potentials (EP, 30–200 Hz) for blind Mexican cavefish were measured in response to a dipole source. Greatest sensitivity was observed at the lower and upper ends of the tested frequency range. To evaluate the relative contributions of the lateral line and inner ear, we measured the effects of neomycin on EP response characteristics at 40 Hz, and used the vital dye DASPEI to verify neuromast ablation. Neomycin increased the latency of the EP response up until 60 min post-treatment. DASPEI results confirmed that neuromast hair cell death was significant in treated fish over this timeframe. These results indicate that the inner ear, whether it is sound pressure or particle motion detection, makes a significant contribution to the dipole-induced EP in blind cavefish at near-field low frequencies where the lateral line contribution would be expected to be strongest. The results from this study imply that under some circumstances, lateral line function could be complemented by the inner ear.


Evoked potentials Fish senses Dipole stimulus Aminoglycoside antibiotics 



We would like to thank Allen Mensinger for providing advice throughout the project. We would also like to thank Jodi Thomas who was a summer scholar within the Radford laboratory for her tireless efforts in perfecting the experimental protocol. CAR was supported by a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship from the Royal Society of New Zealand (Grant no. RDF-UOA1302). All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed and approved by the University of Auckland Animal Ethics Committee.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Leigh Marine Laboratory, Institute of Marine ScienceUniversity of AucklandWarkworthNew Zealand

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