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Keywords:

  • auditory nerve;
  • cochlea;
  • isofrequency lamina;
  • retrograde degeneration

Abstract

The morphological organization of the central projections of the cat cochlear spiral ganglion into the cochlear nucleus was previously investigated by creating restricted lesions in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN) to ablate selectively either the lateral or the medial aspect of isofrequency projection laminae. Such lesions resulted in highly selective retrograde degeneration of spiral ganglion cells. Ablation of the lateral part of the AVCN caused degeneration of cells within the scala tympani part of the ganglion, whereas medial ablations within the AVCN induced degeneration of the scala vestibuli aspect of the ganglion. The peripheral axons also degenerated and this fiber loss exhibited selective topographies that paralleled the cell loss within the spiral ganglion, although this phenomenon was more prominent in the proximal part of the osseous spiral lamina near the ganglion and less obvious more distally near the habenula perforata.

In this investigation, inner hair cells (IHCs) from these selective lesion cases were evaluated by electron microscopy of serial sections through the basal synaptic regions. Results demonstrated differential degeneration of afferent synapses, with greater (but not completely selective) loss of pillar synapses after lateral AVCN lesions and greater loss of modiolar synapses after medial lesions. Because auditory nerve fibers of different spontaneous discharge rates (SRs) have different spatial distributions on the IHC (Liberman, Science 216:1239, 1982), our results suggest that this SR-based organization is maintained in a topographic organization across the vertical (scala tympani-to-scala vestibuli) dimension of the spiral ganglion cell cluster and carried into the ventral cochlear nuclei (VCN). Thus, in addition to the spiral frequency organization represented by the dorsal-to-ventral frequency map in the VCN, there is also an orderly organization of inputs from high- and low-SR fibers across the lateral-to-medial dimension of the VCN such that the lateral isofrequency laminae receive a proportionately greater input from high-SR fibers, whereas medial isofrequency laminae receive preferential input from low- and medium-SR fibers. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.