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Eur J Neurosci. 2006 Nov;24(9):2515-29.

Contralateral inhibitory and excitatory frequency response maps in the mammalian cochlear nucleus.

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Centre for the Neural Basis of Hearing, Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience, Cambridge CB2 3EG, UK.


There is increasing evidence that the responses of single units in the mammalian cochlear nucleus can be altered by the presentation of contralateral stimuli, although the functional significance of this binaural responsiveness is unknown. To further our understanding of this phenomenon we recorded single-unit (n = 110) response maps from the cochlear nucleus (ventral and dorsal divisions) of the anaesthetized guinea pig in response to presentation of ipsilateral and contralateral pure tones. Many neurones showed no evidence of input from the contralateral ear (n = 41) but other neurones from both ventral and dorsal cochlear nucleus showed clear evidence of contralateral inhibitory input (n = 61). Inhibitory response patterns were divided into two groups. In 36 neurones, contralateral tone-evoked inhibition was closely aligned with the ipsilateral excitatory response map (+/- 0.33 octaves) often extending to low stimulus levels. In 25 neurones, higher threshold contralateral inhibitory responses were found, mostly centred at frequencies greater than 0.33 octaves below the ipsilateral excitation. A few neurones (n = 8) exhibited responses consistent with excitatory input from the contralateral ear, which was closely aligned with the ipsilateral excitation, and were found exclusively in the dorsal cochlear nucleus. The latency of the contralateral interaction was, on average, longer than the ipsilateral latency. Interaural level difference curves are similar to other reports from the cochlear nucleus. Our results are consistent with the idea that contralateral interactions arise from a variety of direct and indirect neuronal projections.

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