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Exp Brain Res. 2003 Dec;153(4):427-35. Epub 2003 Sep 5.

Effects of contralateral sound stimulation on unit activity of ventral cochlear nucleus neurons.

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Kresge Hearing Research Institute, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Michigan, USA.


The cochlear nucleus (CN) commissural connection represents the first opportunity for convergence of binaural information in the auditory brainstem. All major neuron types in the ventral CN (VCN) are innervated by a diverse population of cells in the contralateral VCN. This study examined the effect of contralateral sound stimulation on the spontaneous rates (SRs) of neurons in the VCN. Unit activity was recorded with silicon-substrate multichannel probes which allowed recordings from up to 16 sites simultaneously. On average, 30% of units showed short-latency (often only 2 ms greater than the latencies of ipsilateral sound-evoked responses) inhibition of SR by wideband contralateral noise bursts. Fewer units (4.5%) were excited by contralateral noise at sound levels low enough to exclude excitation by acoustic crossover. Both regular and irregular units in the anterior VCN (AVCN) and posterior VCN (PVCN) were inhibited by contralateral sound. Decrements in SR followed a monotonic function with increases in contralateral sound level, except where responses could be attributed to acoustic crossover. Restricting the contralateral noise bandwidth resulted in a frequency-specific inhibition, dominated by frequencies at and below the ipsilateral BF of the unit, consistent with anatomical findings of the tonotopic organization of the CN commissural pathway. The latencies of these effects are compatible with mono, di and tri-synaptic connections reflecting CN commissural pathway effects.

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