Octopus Cells in the Posteroventral Cochlear Nucleus Provide the Main Excitatory Input to the Superior Paraolivary Nucleus

Abstract : Auditory streaming enables perception and interpretation of complex acoustic environments that contain competing sound sources. At early stages of central processing, sounds are segregated into separate streams representing attributes that later merge into acoustic objects. Streaming of temporal cues is critical for perceiving vocal communication, such as human speech, but our understanding of circuits that underlie this process is lacking, particularly at subcortical levels. The superior paraolivary nucleus (SPON), a prominent group of inhibitory neurons in the mammalian brainstem, has been implicated in processing temporal information needed for the segmentation of ongoing complex sounds into discrete events. The SPON requires temporally precise and robust excitatory input(s) to convey information about the steep rise in sound amplitude that marks the onset of voiced sound elements. Unfortunately, the sources of excitation to the SPON and the impact of these inputs on the behavior of SPON neurons have yet to be resolved. Using anatomical tract tracing and immunohistochemistry, we identified octopus cells in the contralateral cochlear nucleus (CN) as the primary source of excitatory input to the SPON. Cluster analysis of miniature excitatory events also indicated that the majority of SPON neurons receive one type of excitatory input. Precise octopus cell-driven onset spiking coupled with transient offset spiking make SPON responses well-suited to signal transitions in sound energy contained in vocalizations. Targets of octopus cell projections, including the SPON, are strongly implicated in the processing of temporal sound features, which suggests a common pathway that conveys information critical for perception of complex natural sounds.
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Frontiers in Neural Circuits, Frontiers, 2017, 11, pp.37. 〈10.3389/fncir.2017.00037〉
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Richard A. Felix Il, Boris Gourévitch, Marcelo Gomez-Alvarez, Sara C. M. Leijon, Enrique Saldana, et al.. Octopus Cells in the Posteroventral Cochlear Nucleus Provide the Main Excitatory Input to the Superior Paraolivary Nucleus. Frontiers in Neural Circuits, Frontiers, 2017, 11, pp.37. 〈10.3389/fncir.2017.00037〉. 〈hal-01556581〉

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