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Brain Res Bull. 2003 Jun 15;60(5-6):457-74.

Parallel auditory pathways: projection patterns of the different neuronal populations in the dorsal and ventral cochlear nuclei.

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Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center, P.O. Box 3209, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


The cochlear nuclear complex gives rise to widespread projections to nuclei throughout the brainstem. The projections arise from separate, well-defined populations of cells. None of the cell populations in the cochlear nucleus projects to all brainstem targets, and none of the targets receives inputs from all cell types. The projections of nine distinguishable cell types in the cochlear nucleus-seven in the ventral cochlear nucleus and two in the dorsal cochlear nucleus-are described in this review. Globular bushy cells and two types of spherical bushy cells project to nuclei in the superior olivary complex that play roles in sound localization based on binaural cues. Octopus cells convey precisely timed information to nuclei in the superior olivary complex and lateral lemniscus that, in turn, send inhibitory input to the inferior colliculus. Cochlear root neurons send widespread projections to areas of the reticular formation involved in startle reflexes and autonomic functions. Type I multipolar cells may encode complex features of natural stimuli and send excitatory projections directly to the inferior colliculus. Type II multipolar cells send inhibitory projections to the contralateral cochlear nuclei. Fusiform cells in the dorsal cochlear nucleus appear to be important for the localization of sounds based on spectral cues and send direct excitatory projections to the inferior colliculus. Giant cells in the dorsal cochlear nucleus also project directly to the inferior colliculus; some of them may convey inhibitory inputs to the contralateral cochlear nucleus as well.

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