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J Neurophysiol. 2011 Jul;106(1):421-36. doi: 10.1152/jn.00982.2010. Epub 2011 May 4.

Stimulus-dependent changes in optical responses of the dorsal cochlear nucleus using voltage-sensitive dye.

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Department of Neurosciences and The Head and Neck Institute, The Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio 44195, USA.


Optical imaging with voltage-sensitive dye was used to examine the spatiotemporal dynamics of stimulus-driven activity on the surface of the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN). Stimulation with tones at low to moderate levels produced localized regions of activation that were most commonly elongated rostrocaudally. The size of these activation areas expanded with increases in sound level, while their centers shifted from the lateral direction to the medial direction with increases in stimulus frequency. In contrast to the tonotopic patterns of activation evoked by tones, electrical stimulation of the DCN surface resulted in bands of activation that were elongated along the medial-lateral axis; response latencies increased with distance along these bands from the point of stimulation. Shifting the site of electrical stimulation from the rostral direction to the caudal direction induced corresponding shifts in the rostrocaudal location of the activation band; moving the electrode tip to subsurface depths resulted in loss of the elongated band. Transecting the DCN along the rostrocaudal axis midway between its medial and lateral extremities blocked propagation of the response to the half of the DCN distal to but not proximal to the stimulating electrode. The results suggest that the two modes of stimulation activated two distinct populations of neurons, one involving primarily tonotopically organized cells and the other crossing these tonotopic zones and likely representing the activation of parallel fibers. These results reveal a number of new features in the spatial patterns of tone-elicited activation that are not readily predicted by responses recorded electrophysiologically.

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