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Handb Clin Neurol. 2015;129:3-25. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-62630-1.00001-9.

Auditory pathways: anatomy and physiology.

Author information

1
Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland, St. Lucia, Queensland, Australia. Electronic address: j.pickles@uq.edu.au.

Abstract

This chapter outlines the anatomy and physiology of the auditory pathways. After a brief analysis of the external, middle ears, and cochlea, the responses of auditory nerve fibers are described. The central nervous system is analyzed in more detail. A scheme is provided to help understand the complex and multiple auditory pathways running through the brainstem. The multiple pathways are based on the need to preserve accurate timing while extracting complex spectral patterns in the auditory input. The auditory nerve fibers branch to give two pathways, a ventral sound-localizing stream, and a dorsal mainly pattern recognition stream, which innervate the different divisions of the cochlear nucleus. The outputs of the two streams, with their two types of analysis, are progressively combined in the inferior colliculus and onwards, to produce the representation of what can be called the "auditory objects" in the external world. The progressive extraction of critical features in the auditory stimulus in the different levels of the central auditory system, from cochlear nucleus to auditory cortex, is described. In addition, the auditory centrifugal system, running from cortex in multiple stages to the organ of Corti of the cochlea, is described.

KEYWORDS:

Hearing; anatomy; auditory cortex; cochlea; cochlear nucleus; inferior colliculus; medial geniculate; physiology; review; superior olive

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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