Document Type

Contribution to Book

Publication Date


Publication Title

Fish Hearing and Bioacoustics



First Page



Fish hearing, Mechanosensory, Auditory, Lateral line, Acoustic communication, Multisensory integration

Last Page



Examination of fish responses to sound stimuli has a rich and varied history but it is not always clear when responses are true measures of hearing or the lateral-line. The central innervation of auditory and lateral-line sensory afferents lie in close proximity in the brainstem and both sets of receptors are, at heart, hair cell-based particle motion detectors. While it is possible to separately measure physiological activity of these two receptor subtypes, many studies of fish “hearing” use whole brain potentials or behavioural assays in complex sound fields where it is not possible to distinguish inputs. We argue here that, as often measured, what is thought of as fish “hearing” is often a multisensory response of both auditory and lateral line receptors. We also argue that in many situations where fish use sound stimuli, the behaviour is also an integrative response of both systems, due to the often close proximity of fish during sound communication. We end with a set of recommendations for better understanding the separate and combined roles of ear and lateral-line hair cells as well as an acknowledgment of the seminal and continuing contributions of Arthur N. Popper and Richard R. Fay to this field.



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