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J Neurophysiol. 2010 Nov;104(5):2308-20. doi: 10.1152/jn.00451.2010. Epub 2010 Aug 25.

Auditory nerve fibers excite targets through synapses that vary in convergence, strength, and short-term plasticity.

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Department of Physiology, School of Medicine and Public Health, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Auditory nerve fibers are the major source of excitation to the three groups of principal cells of the ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN), bushy, T stellate, and octopus cells. Shock-evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (eEPSCs) in slices from mice showed systematic differences between groups of principal cells, indicating that target cells contribute to determining pre- and postsynaptic properties of synapses from spiral ganglion cells. Bushy cells likely to be small spherical bushy cells receive no more than three, most often two, excitatory inputs; those likely to be globular bushy cells receive at least four, most likely five, inputs. T stellate cells receive 6.5 inputs. Octopus cells receive >60 inputs. The N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) components of eEPSCs were largest in T stellate, smaller in bushy, and smallest in octopus cells, and they were larger in neurons from younger than older mice. The average AMPA conductance of a unitary input is 22 ± 15 nS in both groups of bushy cells, <1.5 nS in octopus cells, and 4.6 ± 3 nS in T stellate cells. Sensitivity to philanthotoxin (PhTX) and rectification in the intracellular presence of spermine indicate that AMPA receptors that mediate eEPSCs in T stellate cells contain more GluR2 subunits than those in bushy and octopus cells. The AMPA components of eEPSCs were briefer in bushy (0.5 ms half-width) than in T stellate and octopus cells (0.8-0.9 ms half-width). Widening of eEPSCs in the presence of cyclothiazide (CTZ) indicates that desensitization shortens eEPSCs. CTZ-insensitive synaptic depression of the AMPA components was greater in bushy and octopus than in T stellate cells.

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