Journal of Comparative Physiology A

, Volume 164, Issue 4, pp 459–474 | Cite as

Physiology of lateral line mechanoreceptive regions in the elasmobranch brain

  • H. Bleckmann
  • O. Weiss
  • T. H. Bullock


The physiology of mechanoreceptive lateral line areas was investigated in the thornback guitarfish,Platyrhinoidis triseriata, from medulla to telencephalon, using averaged evoked potentials (AEPs) and unit responses as windows to brain functions. Responses were analysed with respect to frequency sensitivity, intensity functions, influence of stimulus repetition rate, response latency, receptive field (RF) organization and multimodal interaction.
  1. 1.

    Following a quasi-natural vibrating sphere stimulus, neural responses were recorded in the medullary medial octavolateralis nucleus (MON), the dorsal (DMN) and anterior (AN) nucleus of the mesencephalic nuclear complex, the diencephalic lateral tuberal nucleus (LTN), and a telencephalic area which may correspond to the medial pallium (Figs. 2, 3, 13, 14, 15, 16).

  2. 2.

    Within the test range of 6.5–200 Hz all lateral line areas investigated responded to minute water vibrations. Best frequencies (in terms of displacement) were between 75 and 200 Hz with threshold values for AEPs as low as 0.005 μm peak-to-peak (p-p) water displacement calculated at the skin surface (Fig. 6).

  3. 3.

    AEP-responses to a vibrating sphere stimulus recorded in the MON are tonic or phasic-tonic, i.e., responses are strongest at stimulus onset but last for the whole stimulus duration in form of a frequency following response (Fig. 3). DMN and AN responses are phasic or phasic-tonic. Units recorded in the MON are phase coupled to the stimulus, those recorded in the DMN, AN or LTN are usually not (Figs. 5, 8, 9). Diencephalic LTN and telencephalic lateral line responses (AEPs) often are purely phasic. However, in the diencephalic LTN tonic and/or off-responses can be recorded (Fig. 11).

  4. 4.

    For the frequencies 25, 50, and 100 Hz, the dynamic intensity range of lateral line areas varies from 12.8 to at least 91.6 dB (AEP) respectively 8.9 and 92 dB (few unit and single unit recordings) (Fig. 7).

  5. 5.

    Mesencephalic, diencephalic, and telencephalic RFs, based on the evaluation of AEPs or multiunit activity (MUA), are usually contralateral (AN and LTN) or ipsi- and contralateral (telencephalon) and often complex (Figs. 10, 12, 16).

  6. 6.

    In many cases no obvious interactions between different modalities (vibrating sphere, electric field stimulus, and/or a light flash) were seen. However, some recording sites in the mesencephalic AN and the diencephalic LTN showed bimodal interactions in that an electric field stimulus decreased or increased the amplitude of a lateral line response and vice versa (Fig. 13B).



Lateral Line Light Flash Stimulus Repetition Single Unit Recording Multimodal Interaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



anterior nucleus of the mesencephalic nuclear complex


average evoked potential


dorsomedial nucleus of the mesencephalic nuclear complex


lateral nucleus of the mesencephalic nuclear complex


lateral tuberal nucleus


medial octavolateralis nucleus


multiunit activity


posterior lateral line nerve


peristimulus time histogram


receptive field


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Bleckmann
    • 1
    • 2
  • O. Weiss
    • 1
    • 2
  • T. H. Bullock
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Neurobiology UnitScripps Institution of OceanographySan Diego, La JollaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Neurosciences, School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaSan Diego, La JollaUSA

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