Projections from the ventral cochlear nucleus to the inferior colliculus and the contralateral cochlear nucleus in guinea pigs.
Multipolar cells in the ventral cochlear nucleus are the source of projections to numerous brainstem auditory nuclei, including the contralateral and ipsilateral inferior colliculi and the contralateral cochlear nucleus. Multiple fluorescent tracers were used to label the multipolar cells that project to each of these targets. Following injections of different tracers into each target, the ventral cochlear nucleus was examined for the presence of cells that contained more than one tracer. Such cells were never observed. In contrast, double-labeled cells were common in the dorsal cochlear nucleus, where cells frequently contained the two tracers that were injected into the ipsilateral and contralateral inferior colliculi. The distribution and somatic morphology of cells in the ventral cochlear nucleus that project to each of the three targets were examined. Each population contained cells with somas that ranged in shape from elongated to rounded, but there were differences in soma size. Projections to the ipsilateral and contralateral inferior colliculi arise predominantly from small to medium-sized cells, the average size being slightly less for cells with projections to the ipsilateral colliculus. Projections to the contralateral cochlear nucleus arise from cells with somas that range in size from small to large, including cells much larger than those that projected to either inferior colliculus. On the basis of these results, we conclude that projections from the ventral cochlear nucleus to the ipsilateral and contralateral inferior colliculi and to the contralateral cochlear nucleus arise in three different populations of multipolar cells.
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