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Keywords:

  • cochlear nucleus granule cell;
  • vestibular nucleus;
  • hair cell;
  • axon collateral;
  • efferent nerve

Abstract

Horseradish peroxidase was used to label axons of olivocochlear (OC) neurons by intracellular injections in cats and extracellular injections in rodents. These axons arise from cell bodies in the superior olivary complex and project to the cochlea. En route to the cochlea, the thick axons (> 0.7 μm diam.) of medial olivocochlear (MOC) neurons formed collaterals that terminated in the ventral cochlear nucleus, the interstitial nucleus of the vestibular nerve (in cats), and the inferior vestibular nucleus (in rodents). The thin axons (< 0.7 μm diam.), presumed to arise from lateral olivocochlear (LOC) neurons, did not branch near the CN. Within the CN, the MOC collaterals tended to ramify in and near regions with high densities of granule cells, regions also associated with the terminals of type II afferent axons (Brown et al.: J. Comp. Neurol. 278:581–590, '88). These results suggest that those fibers associated peripherally with outer hair cells (MOC efferents and type II afferents) are associated centrally with regions containing granule cells, whereas those fibers associated with inner hair cells peripherally (LOC efferents and type I afferents) are not.