Sisneros Lab Research

In general, our lab is interested in the behavior and neural mechanisms involved in social acoustic communication. We use fish as model systems to investigate the adaptive plasticity of the auditory system for social communication.

Our research program is composed of three foci that reflect our general interests in understanding the proximate mechanisms of social and reproductive-related behaviors, and how sensory systems contribute to their expression. The primary focus of the Sisneros lab is the investigation of seasonal reproductive-state and steroid-dependent plasticity of the adult auditory system in the plainfin midshipman fish (Porichthys notatus). A second focus is the examination of ontogenetic changes in the response properties and function of the fish auditory system, and a third focus is the investigation of sound source localization by fishes.

We use a combination of experimental approaches that include neurophysiology, neuroendocrinology and behavioral studies to determine how the vertebrate auditory system functions in natural ecological settings, how the brain processes species-specific communication signals, and the adaptive sensory mechanisms that are used by animals for the detection and localization of acoustic communication signals.


Last updated 8-30-13
Photos by M. Marchaterre

Research Projects and Interests:

- Brain activation patterns in response to simple and complex social acoustic signals

- Behavioral measures of hearing in zebrafish and sticklebacks

- Sound source localization and directional hearing in fishes (see NSF research highlight)

- Seasonal and steroid-dependent effects on auditory processing in the midshipman fish

- Ontogenetic changes in the response properties and function of fish auditory systems

- Neuroethology of acoustic communication in fishes

- Life history adaptations of the teleost auditory system

Collecting Midshipman on the
RV Kittiwake (Dec 2012)
(photo by Bill Anderson)

Photos of:
Field Collections (2007)
Field Collections (2005 - 2006): Summer & Winter

midshpman sound localization video

midshipman sound file of Hum recorded at Friday Harbor Laboratories