Journal of Neuroscience vol:18 issue:23 pages:10157-70
The dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) is one of three nuclei at the terminal zone of the auditory nerve. Axons of its projection neurons course via the dorsal acoustic stria (DAS) to the inferior colliculus (IC), where their signals are integrated with inputs from various other sources. The DCN presumably conveys sensitivity to spectral features, and it has been hypothesized that it plays a role in sound localization based on pinna cues. To account for its remarkable spectral properties, a DCN circuit scheme was developed in which three inputs converge onto projection neurons: auditory nerve fibers, inhibitory interneurons, and wide-band inhibitors, which possibly consist of Onset-chopper (Oc) cells. We studied temporal and binaural properties in DCN and DAS and examined whether the temporal properties are consistent with the model circuit. Interneurons (type II) and projection (types III and IV) neurons differed from Oc cells by their longer latencies and temporally nonlinear responses to amplitude-modulated tones. They also showed evidence of early inhibition to clicks. All projection neurons examined were inhibited by stimulation of the contralateral ear, particularly by broadband noise, and this inhibition also had short latency. Because Oc cells had short-latency responses and were well driven by broadband stimuli, we propose that they provide short-latency inhibition to DCN for both ipsilateral and contralateral stimuli. These results indicate more complex temporal behavior in DCN than has previously been emphasized, but they are consistent with the recently described nonlinear behavior to spectral manipulations and with the connectivity scheme deduced from such manipulations.