Diverse responses of single auditory afferent fibres to electrical stimulation of the inferior colliculus in guinea-pig

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    Medial olivocochlear (MOC) neurons in the auditory brainstem project to the cochlea and inhibit cochlear neural output by their action on the cochlear outer hair cells. The function of the lateral olivocochlear (LOC) neurons, projecting to the auditory primary afferents is still under debate. Recent studies have suggested that the olivocochlear system can have frequency-specific, spatially restricted effects within the cochlea. It has been shown that the inferior colliculus (IC) projects to the MOC neurons in a tonotopic manner and that electrical stimulation of the IC can activate the MOC system, suppressing cochlear gross potentials. In addition, it has been shown that stimulation of the IC may be able to activate the LOC neurons. We investigated the effect of IC stimulation on single units in the cochlea of guinea-pigs and searched for evidence of spatially restricted effects of the MOC system and effects of the LOC system. We found a variety of effects on single units. About 40% of units were unchanged whereas others (53%) showed inhibitory effects, reflected in a rightward shift of their rate-level function, sometimes accompanied by a suppression of the spontaneous rate. About 18% of the inhibited neurons showed an increased spontaneous rate. In 5% of the units we observed an excitatory effect of IC stimulation, resulting in a leftward shift of the rate-level functions. We also found that the effect could vary greatly between units of the same and adjacent frequencies within a single animal. These results imply an involvement of another regulatory system besides the MOC system, possibly the LOC system, which acts directly on the primary afferents. These data also demonstrate that the olivocochlear system is capable of eliciting highly localized effects on different frequency regions in the cochlea.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)235-244
    JournalExperimental Brain Research
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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