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J Comp Neurol. 1979 Feb 1;183(3):665-77.

Afferent influences on the development of the brain stem auditory nuclei of the chicken: otocyst ablation.


The effects of embryonic deafferentation on the morphological development of the avian cochlear nuclei, n. angularis (NA) and n. magnocellularis (NM), were investigated. The right otocyst was surgically removed from chick embryos at 55 to 60 hours of incubation and the subsequent development of total volume, neuron number, and neuron cross-sectional area were studied with quantitative methods in animals sacrificed at 2-day intervals between embryonic days 9 and 19 and at 28 days posthatching. The development of NA and NM is severely affected by otocyst ablation. Between embryonic days 9 and 19, a large group of NA neurons in the medioventral portion of the nucleus on the operated side moves to an ectopic ventromedial position, while the remainder of this nucleus stays in its normal dorsolateral position. Beginning about day 13 of incubation, the normal increase in the volume of NA and the size of its neurons becomes progressively retarded and 40% of its neurons are lost. The growth of NM is also retarded after day 11 of incubation and the growth of mean neuron size is retarded after day 15. There is a 30% loss of neurons in NM which begins after embryonic day 11. The results indicate the primary cochlear fibers make a critical contribution to the growth and maintenance of their target neurons. The absence of this facilitative influence following otocyst ablation becomes apparent just at the time synapses would normally be formed between the the primary auditory afferents and the brain stem auditory neurons. The abnormal movement of neurons in nucleus angularis to an ectopic position after otocyst ablation suggests that primary auditory afferents may serve to stabilize the position of their target cells within the developing brain.

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