Frequency response properties of primary afferent neurons in the posterior lateral line system of larval zebrafish

Rafael Levi, Otar Akanyeti, Aleksander Ballo, James C. Liao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (SciVal)


The ability of fishes to detect water flow with the neuromasts of their lateral line system depends on the physiology of afferent neurons as well as the hydrodynamic environment. Using larval zebrafish (Danio rerio), we measured the basic response properties of primary afferent neurons to mechanical deflections of individual superficial neuromasts. We used two types of stimulation protocols. First, we used sine wave stimulation to characterize the response properties of the afferent neurons. The average frequency-response curve was flat across stimulation frequencies between 0 and 100 Hz, matching the filtering properties of a displacement detector. Spike rate increased asymptotically with frequency, and phase locking was maximal between 10 and 60 Hz. Second, we used pulse train stimulation to analyze the maximum spike rate capabilities. We found that afferent neurons could generate up to 80 spikes/s and could follow a pulse train stimulation rate of up to 40 pulses/s in a reliable and precise manner. Both sine wave and pulse stimulation protocols indicate that an afferent neuron can maintain their evoked activity for longer durations at low stimulation frequencies than at high frequencies. We found one type of afferent neuron based on spontaneous activity patterns and discovered a correlation between the level of spontaneous and evoked activity. Overall, our results establish the baseline response properties of lateral line primary afferent neurons in larval zebrafish, which is a crucial step in understanding how vertebrate mechanoreceptive systems sense and subsequently process information from the environment
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657-6688
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Neurophysiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • afferent neuron
  • lateral line
  • zebrafish
  • electrophysiology
  • frequency response
  • pulse stimulus


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