The lateral line system of Astronotus ocellatus comprises one trunk canal, one tail canal, and three head canals. The sensory receptors on the head are innervated by rami of the dorsal anterior, ventral anterior, and posterior lateral line nerves, and those along the trunk and tail by rami of the posterior lateral line nerve. The peripheral configuration of lateral line canals and nerves was examined in whole mount preparations, the central connections of restricted groups of endorgans studied using HRP and degeneration methods, and the neuronal morphology and cytoarchitecture of the lateralis region invetitigated with Nissl, silver, and Golgi methods.
Neurons of the lateralis cell column are diffusely arrayed and of variable morphology. They are oriented primarily in the transverse plane and, with the exception of a dorsal lamina of large multipolar cells, are not organized into zones.
Lateralis fibers bifurcate on entering the brainstem, course in lateral tracts, and give off medially directed collaterals to terminate in the ipsilateral nucleus medialis and nucleus caudalis. In addition, fibers terminate in the eminentia granularis of the cerebellum, but only fibers supplying endorgans in the head canals penetrate the granule cell zone of the cerebellar corpus.
Fibers supplying sense organs in adjacent canals overlap in their central endings, whereas fibers of distantly separated receptors do not overlap. The rami supplying trunk and tail canal organs do not project as far rostrally in the central neuropil as do the other rami. Endings of posterior lateral line fibers lie dorsal to those of the anterior lateral line nerves, and some lateralis fibers terminate within the confines of the magnocellular, descending, and posterior nuclei of the octavus column. Although there is spatial order to the lateralis projections, there is no clear somatotopic organization in the lateralis region.