The fine structure of the lateral superior olivary nucleus of the cat.
The synaptic organization of the lateral superior olivary nucleus of the cat was analyzed under the electron microscope. The predominant cell type, the fusiform cell, has dendrites that extend from opposite poles of the cell body toward the margins of the nucleus, where they terminate in spinous branches. The fusiform cells are contacted by three types of synaptic terminals that can be distinguished by the size and shape of their synaptic vesicles. The somatic and proximal dendritic surfaces are apposed by synaptic terminals containing small, flat synaptic vesicles. Further from the cell body, the dendrites form numerous synaptic contacts with terminals containing large round vesicles as well as with the terminals containing small, flat vesicles. The most distal dendritic branches and their spiny appendages appear to form synapses almost exclusively with the terminals with large, round vesicles. A relatively rare type of terminal that contains small, round vesicles may form synapses with either the somatic or dendritic surfaces. A few small cells are interspersed among the fusiform cells, but they are more commonly located around the margins of the nucleus. The small cells form few axosomatic contacts. The simplest interpretation of the findings is that the terminals with small, flat vesicles arise in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body and are inhibitory in function, whereas the terminals with large, round vesicles arise in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus and are excitatory; however, this remains to be demonstrated experimentally. In any case, the differential distribution of these two types of inputs on the somatic and dendritic surfaces must be an important determinant of the physiological response properties of the fusiform cells to binaural acoustic stimuli.
Volume / Issue
Start / End Page
International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)