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Brain Res. 2006 Apr 7;1081(1):138-49. Epub 2006 Feb 28.

Inferior colliculus stimulation causes similar efferent effects on ipsilateral and contralateral cochlear potentials in the guinea pig.

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Kresge Hearing Research Institute, The University of Michigan, 1301 E. Ann Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0506, USA.


The inferior colliculus (IC) is a processing center in both the ascending and descending auditory pathways. It has been demonstrated anatomically to send descending projections to the region of the medial olivocochlear (MOC) neurons in the auditory brainstem. Activation of MOC system produces reductions in cochlear neural activity. Individual MOC fibers innervate relatively restricted regions of the cochlea. Recent studies have shown that selective electrical stimulation within the IC central nucleus (ICC) produces frequency-specific reductions of neural activity in the contralateral cochlea (Ota, Y., Oliver, D.L., Dolan, D.F., 2004. Frequency-specific effects on cochlear responses during activation of the inferior colliculus in the guinea pig. J. Neurophysiol. 91, 2185-2193). This efferent effect is likely mediated through selective activation of MOC cells. In this study, we investigated the effects of selective stimulation of one ICC on cochlear output in both ears in anesthetized and paralyzed guinea pigs to explore possible differences in the effective efferent innervation of the two ears. ICC stimulation had a similar tonotopically tuned effect on the distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) and the cochlear whole-nerve action potential (CAP) in each cochlea. The bandwidth of the efferent effect in each ear was measured and compared at different stimulation levels. For a given ICC stimulation site, the efferent effects were larger for the CAP response. The effect on each response measure was greater in the contralateral than the ipsilateral ear. The effective bandwidth of the efferent effect on the CAP was current-level-dependent but less so for the DPOAE. The results of transections at various locations within the brainstem suggest that the effects were mediated by the MOC system. From the results presented here, the descending efferent system, which originates in the auditory cortex, has frequency-specific, spatially restricted, bilateral effects. The effects are greater in the contralateral ear.

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