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J Neurophysiol. 2004 Jul;92(1):545-52.

Multiple large inputs to principal cells in the mouse medial nucleus of the trapezoid body.

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Department of Neurobiology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University School of Medicine, P.O. Box 208001, New Haven, CT 06520-8001, USA.


The calyx of Held is a giant nerve terminal that forms a synapse directly onto the principal cells of the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) in the mammalian auditory brain stem. This central synapse, which is involved in sound localization, has become widely used for studying synaptic transmission. Anatomical studies of this nucleus have indicated that each principal cell is innervated by only one calyx. Here we use previously established electrophysiological criteria of excitatory postsynaptic current amplitude, kinetics, and transmitter type, as well as other characteristics commonly reported for this synapse, to examine the input properties of principal neurons. Our findings indicate that some principal cells receive more than one strong excitatory input. These inputs meet previously established electrophysiological criteria for identification as calyceal nerve terminals. Implications for the execution and analysis of experiments to avoid errors due to such multiple inputs are discussed.

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