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J Neurosci. 1982 Jun;2(6):791-805.

A primary acoustic startle circuit: lesion and stimulation studies.

Abstract

The latency of the acoustic startle reflex in the rat is 8 msec, measured from tone onset to the beginning of the electromyographic response in the hindleg. This extremely short latency indicates that only a few synapses could be involved in some primary acoustic startle circuit. Acoustic startle is being used as a model system for studying habituation, sensitization, prepulse inhibition, classical conditioning, fear or anxiety, and drug effects on behavior. The present study attempted to delineate a short latency acoustic startle circuit, since this would provide critical information for further study in all of these areas. Bilateral lesions of the ventral cochlear nucleus, which receives the primary auditory input, abolish acoustic startle. Electrical, single pulse stimulation of the ventral cochlear nucleus elicits startle-like responses with a latency of about 7 msec. Bilateral lesions of the dorsal and ventral nuclei of the lateral lemniscus, which receive direct input from the ventral cochlear nuclei, abolish acoustic startle. Electrical stimulation of these nuclei elicits startle-like responses with a latency of about 6 msec. Bilateral lesions of ventral regions of the nucleus reticularis pontis caudalis, which contain cell bodies that give rise to the reticulospinal tract, abolish acoustic startle. Electrical stimulation of these points elicits startle-like responses with a latency of about 5 msec. Reaction product from horseradish peroxidase iontophoresed into this area is found in the nuclei of the lateral lemniscus. In contrast, lesions of the dorsal cochlear nuclei, vestibular nuclei, nucleus reticularis pontis oralis, nucleus reticularis gigantocellularis, and dorsal regions of the nucleus reticularis pontis caudalis fail to abolish acoustic startle. Also, "startle" cannot be elicited electrically from these areas. The data suggest that a primary acoustic startle circuit in the rat consists of auditory nerve, ventral cochlear nucleus, nuclei of the lateral lemniscus, nucleus reticularis pontis caudalis, spinal interneuron, lower motor neuron, and muscles. Hence, five synapses, plus the neuromuscular junction, are probably involved.

PMID:
7086484
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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