We made intraaxonal recordings from 30 individual globular bushy cell axons in the trapezoid body of the cat using HRP-filled glass microelectrodes. With subsequent HRP injection, we determined their axonal projection patterns.
For cells with characteristic frequencies (CFs) above 3 kHz, short-tone peristimulus time histograms (PSTHs) at CF were typically primarylike at low tone intensities and primarylike with notch (PLN) or onset with low sustained activity (OL) at higher stimulus levels. Cells with CFs between 1 and 3 kHz showed the same response features with the spikes in the sustained region of the response phase-locked to the stimulus tone. Cells with CFs below 1 kHz showed phase-locked PSTHs with exceptionally high levels of synchrony compared to eighth nerve fibers with comparable CFs. This exceptional phase-locking was also noted when cells with CFs of 1–3 kHz were presented with tones below 1 kHz.
Although the globular bushy cell axons were not completely filled from the soma of origin to terminal fields in the contralateral brainstem, a number of consistent anatomical features were distinguished in the population. All but one of the myelinated axons crossed the midline in the middle, large fiber component of the trapezoid body. Ipsilaterally, the axon always gave off from one to four collateral branches whose major targets were the posterior periolivary nucleus (PPO) and the lateral nucleus of the trapezoid body (LNTB). Minor termination sites for ipsilateral collateral branches were the dorsolateral periolivary nucleus (DLPO) and the lateral superior olive (LSO). Contralaterally the axon gave rise to one or two calyces of Held in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB). Three other major collateral branches arose from the contralateral axon and innervated a consistent set of areas. One headed caudally to innervate an area just ventromedial to the facial nucleus. Another followed the sixth nerve dorsally to innervate the dorsomedial periolivary nucleus (DMPO). A third collateral headed rostrally toward the ventral nucleus of the lateral lemniscus (VNLL), giving off occasional small sidebranches. Although each injected axon gave rise to a collateral that innervated the MNTB, it did not necessarily give rise to all three of the other collateral branches.