Ventral nucleus of the lateral lemniscus in guinea pigs: cytoarchitecture and inputs from the cochlear nucleus.
Cytoarchitectonic criteria were used to distinguish three subdivisions of the ventral nucleus of the lateral lemniscus in guinea pigs. Axonal tracing techniques were used to examine the projections from the cochlear nucleus to each subdivision. Based on the cell types they contain and their patterns of input, we distinguished ventral, dorsal, and anterior subdivisions of the ventral nucleus of the lateral lemniscus. All three subdivisions receive bilateral inputs from the cochlear nucleus, with contralateral inputs greatly outnumbering ipsilateral inputs. However, the relative density of the inputs varies: the ventral subdivision receives the densest projection, whereas the anterior subdivision receives the sparsest projection. Further differences are apparent in the morphology of the afferent axons. Following an injection of Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin into the ventral cochlear nucleus, most of the axons on the contralateral side and all of the axons on the ipsilateral side are thin. Thick axons are present only in the ventral subdivision contralateral to the injection site. The evidence from both anterograde and retrograde tracing studies suggests that the thick axons originate from octopus cells, whereas the thin axons arise from multipolar cells and spherical bushy cells. The differences in constituent cell types and in patterns of inputs suggest that each of the three subdivisions of the ventral nucleus of the lateral lemniscus makes a distinct contribution to the analysis of acoustic signals.
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