• auditory;
  • efferents;
  • guinea pig;
  • PHA-L


With the objective of defining the relationship of descending inferior colliculus projections to the olivocochlear system in the guinea pig, inferior colliculus neurons were anterogradely labeled with Phaseolus vulgaris-leucoagglutinin and olivocochlear neurons were retrogradely labeled with horseradish peroxidase in the same brain sections. Inferior colliculus neurons were found to project to many nuclei and regions of the hindbrain where olivocochlear neurons reside. The most substantial of these descending projections was to the ipsilateral medioventral periolivary region. Fewer descending projections terminated in the ipsilateral ventral nucleus of the lateral lemniscus, superior paraolivary nucleus, and rostral periolivary region; and even fewer ipsilateral projections terminated in the area surrounding the lateral superior olive, caudal periolivary region, and the lateroventral periolivary region. Descending neurons of the inferior colliculus also project to the contralateral hindbrain first via the lateral lemniscus and then the trapezoid body, to terminate in the contralateral medioventral periolivary region, superior paraolivary nucleus, rostral periolivary region, and the ventral nucleus of the lateral lemniscus. In addition to the projections into these regions that contain olivocochlear neurons, there are varicosities of inferior colliculus neurons that appear to contact the olivocochlear neurons themselves, both ipsilaterally and contralaterally, especially, but not only, in the ipsilateral medioventral periolivary region. We therefore conclude that descending inferior colliculus neurons do provide input to olivocochlear neurons and that the input is not limited to olivocochlear neurons of the ipsilateral medioventral periolivary region. However, given the robust nature of the projection to the ipsilateral medioventral periolivary region and the paucity of contacts observed in that region, we also conclude that the olivocochlear neuron is not the major target of descending inferior colliculus projections. © 1993 Wiley-Liss, Inc.