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Physiol Behav. 2002 Dec;77(4-5):583-7.

Excitatory action of an immature glycinergic/GABAergic sound localization pathway.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, 3500 Terrace Street, W1457 BST, 15261, Pittsburgh, PA, USA. k.karl@pitt.edu


Most mammals determine the azimuthal direction of incoming sound using auditory cues arising from differences in interaural sound intensity. The first station in the ascending auditory pathway, which processes interaural intensity differences, is the lateral superior olive (LSO), a binaural nucleus in the auditory brainstem. LSO neurons encode interaural intensity differences by integrating excitatory input from the ipsilateral cochlea and inhibitory input from the contralateral cochlea. Both inputs converge on single neurons in a highly organized, frequency-specific manner. The correct development of the precise arrangement of these inputs and their physiological properties depends on neuronal activity. Previous studies have shown that inhibitory, glycinergic/GABAergic inputs to the LSO are transiently depolarizing, and it has been hypothesized that this depolarizing action enables developing inhibitory inputs to act as excitatory inputs. In support of this hypothesis, we recently demonstrated that depolarizing glycinergic/GABAergic inputs can increase the intracellular calcium concentration in immature LSO neurons and elicit action potentials. These results provide support for the notion that the influence of glycinergic/GABAergic synaptic activity on development of the LSO involves calcium-dependent signaling mechanisms.

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