Lateral line layout correlates with the differential hydrodynamic pressure on swimming fish

Leif Ristroph, James C. Liao, Jun Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The lateral line of fish includes the canal subsystem that detects hydrodynamic pressure gradients and is thought to be important in swimming behaviors such as rheotaxis and prey tracking. Here, we explore the hypothesis that this sensory system is concentrated at locations where changes in pressure are greatest during motion through water. Using high-fidelity models of rainbow trout, we mimic the flows encountered during swimming while measuring pressure with fine spatial and temporal resolution. The variations in pressure for perturbations in body orientation and for disturbances to the incoming stream are seen to correlate with the sensory network. These findings support a view of the lateral line as a "hydrodynamic antenna" that is configured to retrieve flow signals and also suggest a physical explanation for the nearly universal sensory layout across diverse species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number018102
JournalPhysical Review Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 6 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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