Effects of medial olivocochlear efferent stimulation on the activity of neurons in the auditory midbrain

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    Medial olivocochlear (MOC) efferents are known to suppress spontaneous activity and sound-evoked responses of primary afferents by their actions on outer hair cells in the cochlea. This study investigated the effects of MOC activation on the responses of single neurons in the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (CNIC) of anaesthetized guinea pigs. Extracellular responses of CNIC neurons to contralateral tones were recorded with and without MOC stimulation in normal animals and in animals acutely treated with gentamicin to eliminate peripheral effects of MOC activation. In normal animals, input–output functions of CNIC neurons showed a variety of changes. Some effects resembled qualitatively those reported for primary afferents. However, other effects were also observed, including an increase of firing rates at medium- to high-tone levels and in a small number of neurons (10%), an increase in spontaneous activity. In addition, larger threshold shifts and larger reductions of spontaneous firing rates were observed as compared to effects seen in the periphery. In gentamicin-treated animals, activation of MOC efferents did not produce any changes in the input–output functions or spontaneous activity of CNIC neurons. This observation is consistent with the majority of MOC-induced changes in monaural responses in the CNIC being mediated by the actions of MOC terminals in the cochlea and resulting from the interplay between altered afferent input and central circuitry.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)161-174
    JournalExperimental Brain Research
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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