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J Neurophysiol. 1985 Oct;54(4):917-39.

Excitatory/inhibitory response types in the cochlear nucleus: relationships to discharge patterns and responses to electrical stimulation of the auditory nerve.


We have studied the response properties of single units in the cochlear nucleus of unanesthetized decerebrate cats. The purpose of the study was to compare the properties of cochlear nucleus units as described in two commonly used classification schemes. Units were first classified according to their receptive-field properties based on the relative prominence of excitatory and inhibitory responses to tones and noise. Units were then classified on the basis of their discharge patterns to short tone bursts at their best frequencies (BFs). Our results show that systematic relationships exist between the receptive-field properties and discharge patterns of cochlear nucleus units. Type I units give only excitatory responses to tones and noise. They are characterized by primary-like and chopper discharge patterns. Some units in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus have prepotentials in their spike waveforms. Prepotential units most often show primary-like discharge patterns, but prepotential units characterized by nonprimary-like discharge patterns are also found. Most prepotential units lack detectable inhibitory sidebands (type I), but two of the nonprimary-like prepotential units encountered in this study had inhibitory sidebands (type III). Type III units also give excitatory responses to BF tones, but they have inhibitory sidebands. Most type III units give chopper discharge patterns, and these units can be recorded throughout the cochlear nucleus. Some type III units in the dorsal cochlear nucleus give complex discharge patterns that can be described as a composite of the pauser pattern and other patterns. The complexity of these responses seems to increase as the amount of inhibition at BF increases. Type I/III units give excitatory responses to tones and noise, but have little or no spontaneous activity so they cannot be tested directly for inhibitory responses. Type I/III units typically show chopper discharge patterns. One group of type I/III units have rate-level functions with sloping saturation, suggesting that these may receive a predominance of input from low spontaneous rate auditory nerve fibers. Type II units are nonspontaneous and give excitatory responses to tones, but give weak or no responses to noise. While type II units are homogeneous as a group in terms of their response maps. BF rate-level functions, and responses to noise, they show a variety of discharge patterns in response to short tone bursts at BF.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

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