Chapter

Cochlear Nucleus

Eric D. Young and Donata Oertel

in Handbook of Brain Microcircuits

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780195389883
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199965137 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780195389883.003.0021
Cochlear Nucleus

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Neuronal circuits in the brainstem convert the output of the ear, which carries the acoustic properties of ongoing sound, to a representation of the acoustic environment that can be used by the thalamocortical system. More importantly, brainstem circuits reflect the way the brain makes use of acoustic cues to determine where sounds arise and what they mean. The circuits merge the separate representations of sound in the two ears and stabilize them in the face of disturbances such as loudness fluctuations or background noise. Embedded in these systems are some specialized analyses that are driven by the need to resolve tiny differences in the time and intensity of sounds at the two ears and to resolve rapid temporal fluctuations in sounds like the sequence of notes in music or the sequence of syllables in speech. At the first stage of the auditory pathway, in the cochlear nucleus, the auditory nerve (AN) feeds multiple parallel pathways through the brainstem that perform separate computations and ultimately converge in the inferior colliculus. These pathways are formed through as few as one to as many as three synaptic stages. This chapter discusses bushy cells and temporal representations, T-multipolar cells and sound-level representation, octopus cells, vertical and D-multipolar cells, and the role of the dorsal cochlear nucleus in integrating complex acoustic and nonacoustic cues.

Chapter.  3565 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Development of the Nervous System

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