Neural Organization and Responses to Complex Stimuli in the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus [and Discussion]

Eric D. Young, George A. Spirou, John J. Rice, Herbert F. Voigt, A. Rees

Abstract

The dorsal division of the cochlear nucleus (DCN) is the most complex of its subdivisions in terms of both anatomical organization and physiological response types. Hypotheses about the functional role of the DCN in hearing are as yet primitive, in part because the organizational complexity of the DCN has made development of a comprehensive and predictive model of its input-output processing difficult. The responses of DCN cells to complex stimuli, especially filtered noise, are interesting because they demonstrate properties that cannot be predicted, without further assumptions, from responses to narrow band stimuli, such as tones. In this paper, we discuss the functional organization of the DCN, i.e. the morphological organization of synaptic connections within the nucleus and the nature of synaptic interactions between its cells. We then discuss the responses of DCN principal cells to filtered noise stimuli that model the spectral sound localization cues produced by the pinna. These data imply that the DCN plays a role in interpreting sound localization cues; supporting evidence for such a role is discussed.