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Abstract

The human cochlear nuclei are composed of a ventral and a dorsal nucleus which are similar, though not identical, in their cytoarchitecture to those of other mammals. The ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN) consists of a rostral area of spherical cells, a central area of multipolar and globular cells, a posterior area of octopus cells, and a laterodorsal cap of small neurons. The interareal boundaries are less distinct in man than in the cat. The central region of multipolar cells and the cap area of small cells constitute the bulk of the human VCN. The spherical, globular, and octopus cells appear relatively less numerous in man than in other mammals. The dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) in man is relatively large, but lacks the typical stratification seen in other mammals, with only vestiges of the granular and molecular layers remaining. Virtually the entire DCN consists of an area of cochlear fiber neuropil containing pyramidal cells, small neurons, and occasional giant cells. The pyramidal cells have lost their typical radial orientation and lie scattered within the cochlear neuropil. Thus the entire human DCN may be equivalent to layers 2 and 3 of this nucleus in other mammals. In spite of the relatively large DCN, the acoustic striae appear small. This is in contrast to the large trapezoid body leaving the VCN. Intrinsic and descending fiber pathways to the cochlear nuclei are not clearly defined and may be less prominent in man than in the cat.