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J Neurosci. 1997 Sep 1;17(17):6798-806.

Granule cell activation of complex-spiking neurons in dorsal cochlear nucleus.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Engineering and Center for Hearing Sciences, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) principal cells receive, in addition to their well known auditory inputs, various nonauditory inputs via a cerebellar-like granule cell circuit located in the superficial layers of the DCN. Activation of this circuit (granule cell axons make excitatory synapses on the principal cells but also contact inhibitory interneurons that project to the principal cells) produces strong inhibition of the principal cells. Here we investigate the role of cartwheel cells, homologs of cerebellar Purkinje cells, in producing this inhibition. The responses of type IV units (one type of principal cells) and of cartwheel cells were recorded to ortho- and antidromic activation of the granule cells (i. e., by stimulation of their inputs from the somatosensory cuneate and spinal trigeminal nuclei and by direct stimulation of their parallel fiber axons). Cartwheel cells were identified on the basis of recording depth and complex action potential shape. A four-pulse facilitation paradigm (four pulses at 50 msec intervals) was used; this stimulus allows separation of the apparently simple inhibitory somatosensory response of type IV units into a three-component (inhibition-excitation-inhibition) response. As expected, cartwheel cells are excited by granule cell activation; the latencies and four-pulse amplitudes of these responses correspond to the properties of the second, long-latency inhibitory component of type IV responses. The source of the first, short-latency inhibitory response is still unknown. Nevertheless, these results show that cartwheel cells convey inhibitory polysensory information to DCN principal cells.

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