Fiber pathways and branching patterns of biocytin-labeled olivocochlear neurons in the mouse brainstem


  • M. C. Brown

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology and Department of Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School, and Eaton-Peabody Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, Boston, Massachusetts 02114
    • Eaton-Peabody Laboratory, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, 243 Charles St., Boston, MA 02114
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Olivocochlear neurons have somata in the superior olivary complex in the brainstem and project fibers to the cochlea. The purpose of the present study was to demonstrate the fiber pathways and branching patterns of olivocochlear fibers within the brainstem. Olivocochlear fibers were labeled by extracellular injections of biocytin into the cochlea of mice. The injections labeled two populations of olivocochlear fibers. Thin olivocochlear fibers arose from small somata of the lateral olivocochlear group located ipsilaterally in the lateral superior olive. Thick olivocochlear fibers arose from larger somata of the medial olivocochlear group located bilaterally in the periolivary nuclei. The lateral olivocochlear and medial olivocochlear fibers had similar courses but differed in their branching patterns. Branches from lateral olivocochlear fibers terminated near their somata of origin in the lateral superior olive or in the lateral vestibular nucleus. Branches from medial olivocochlear fibers terminated in the inferior vestibular nucleus or in the cochlear nuclear complex. A few branches from medial olivocochlear fibers projected to the contralateral side. Although they project primarily to the cochlea, olivocochlear neurons also give off branches to a variety of nuclei in the brainstem, thus involving auditory and non-auditory nuclei in the olivocochlear reflex system. © 1993 Wiley-Liss,Inc.