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Multisensory integration in the dorsal cochlear nucleus: unit responses to acoustic and trigeminal ganglion stimulation


  • S. E. Shore

    1. Kresge Hearing Research Institute and Department of Otolaryngology, University of Michigan, 1301 East Ann Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA
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Dr S. E. Shore, as above.


A necessary requirement for multisensory integration is the convergence of pathways from different senses. The dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) receives auditory input directly via the VIIIth nerve and somatosensory input indirectly from the Vth nerve via granule cells. Multisensory integration may occur in DCN cells that receive both trigeminal and auditory nerve input, such as the fusiform cell. We investigated trigeminal system influences on guinea pig DCN cells by stimulating the trigeminal ganglion while recording spontaneous and sound-driven activity from DCN neurons. A bipolar stimulating electrode was placed into the trigeminal ganglion of anesthetized guinea pigs using stereotaxic co-ordinates. Electrical stimuli were applied as bipolar pulses (100 µs per phase) with amplitudes ranging from 10 to 100 µA. Responses from DCN units were obtained using a 16-channel, four-shank electrode. Current pulses were presented alone or preceding 100- or 200-ms broadband noise (BBN) bursts. Thirty percent of DCN units showed either excitatory, inhibitory or excitatory–inhibitory responses to trigeminal ganglion stimulation. When paired with BBN stimulation, trigeminal stimulation suppressed or facilitated the firing rate in response to BBN in 78% of units, reflecting multisensory integration. Pulses preceding the acoustic stimuli by as much as 95 ms were able to alter responses to BBN. Bimodal suppression may play a role in attenuating body-generated sounds, such as vocalization or respiration, whereas bimodal enhancement may serve to direct attention in low signal-to-noise environments.

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