• auditory system;
  • giant cells;
  • horseradish peroxidase;
  • pyramidal cells


In the mouse dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN), all members of a distinct class of large multipolar neurons were shown to project to the contralateral inferior colliculus by using retrograde horseradish peroxidase techniques. Typically, these multipolar neurons have the largest cell bodies in the nucleus and are distributed in layers II, III, and IV. Each contains a round, pale nucleus with a prominent nucleolus and conspicuous Nissl bodies. In Golgi preparations, however, two types of large cells could be distinguished on the basis of dendritic characteristics. Pyramidal cells form relatively flattened, slablike dendritic fields whose alignment contributes to the laminar organization of the DCN. They represent 75–80% of the large cell population and are found in layer II and the superficial region of layer III. Giant cells represent the other type of large multipolar neuron and are distributed in the deeper regions of layer III and in layer IV. Their ellipsoidal dendritic fields are formed by long and relatively unbranched dendrites that project across the laminae. The differences in dendritic morphology imply that each cell class segregates its afferent input in distinct ways and subserves different auditory functions.