Broad frequency sensitivity and complex neural coding in the larval zebrafish auditory system

Journal: Current Biology

Published: 2021-03-02

DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.01.103

Affiliations: 2

Authors: 6

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Research Highlight

Baby fish prove adept at hearing

© STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

© STEVE GSCHMEISSNER/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

The brains of larval zebrafish can process underwater sound in much more sophisticated ways than previously appreciated.

Since these maturing young fish are a common lab model for studying the brain-wide neural networks involved in sensory perception, this finding could help scientists better understand how diseases such as autism cause atypical responses to auditory stimuli.

Six scientists, all from the University of Queensland, including a dance music DJ-turned-PhD student, combined a speaker system designed for zebrafish with whole-brain imaging.

They found that larvae can hear a range of different sounds, from low bass frequencies close to the lowest note on a standard guitar (100 hertz) to higher-pitch frequencies near the highest note on a piano (4,000 hertz).

Frequency-selective neurons at various locations throughout brain helped fish discriminate between pure tones, white noise, short sharp sounds and resonances with a gradual crescendo of volume.

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  1. Current Biology 31, 1977–1987.e4 (2021). doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.01.103
Institutions Share
The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia 1

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