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Re-evaluation of the absolute threshold and response mode of the most sensitive known "vibration" detector, the cockroach's subgenual organ: a cochlea-like displacement threshold and a direct response to sound.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of neurobiology
Publication Date
Volume
25
Issue
9
Pages
1167–1185
Identifiers
PMID: 7815071
Source
Medline
License
Unknown

Abstract

Earlier accounts claim from indirect measurements that the subgenual organ (SGO) in the proximal tibia of the cockroach leg can detect vibrational displacements down to 0.002 nm, two orders of magnitude below the threshold for vertebrate hair cells in the cochlea. The SGO vibration threshold is redetermined here more directly by a new method on a cantilever beam, while controlling for particular acoustic and vibrational artifacts that might have compromised earlier efforts. The threshold is revised upwards to about 0.2 nm in the most sensitive preparation, about the same as the cochlea. Recently, it has been determined that the cockroach SGO also has an auditory response, and the data here on subthreshold summation and response-intensity relationships provide further evidence that sound and contact vibration are both sensed by the same receptor neurons. Direct measurements rule out the prevailing hypothesis that sound is detected indirectly as induced vibration of the ground, and also weigh strongly against any significant involvement of generalized leg resonance in acoustic pick-up. The results fit with a recent proposal that the auditory response is direct, and that acoustic fluctuations inside the tracheae may be the primary response mode in the transduction of both vibration and sound.

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