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Synaptic connections in the dorsal cochlear nucleus of mice, in vitro.

  • J A Hirsch
  • D Oertel
Publication Date
Feb 01, 1988


1. Intracellular recordings were made from the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) in slices that contained the root of the auditory nerve and parts of the dorsal and ventral cochlear nuclei. Probably the largest and most common cells were impaled. 2. Weak shocks to the nerve usually evoked an excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) that lasted about 90 ms and whose latency was often less than 1.2 ms, indicating monosynaptic input. 3. Stronger shocks elicited a larger EPSP and a later train of inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs). Increasing the stimulus voltage shortened the latency of the train of IPSPs and increased its efficacy so that at large stimulus strengths inhibition dominated the synaptic response. 4. To determine whether any of the neuronal circuitry which generated the synaptic responses involved the ventral cochlear nucleus, recordings were made from slices containing only the dorsal nucleus. Synaptic responses to stimulation of the pial surface of the isolated DCN resembled those driven from the nerve root. That is, weak shocks evoked long-lasting, monosynaptic EPSPs and stronger stimuli elicited a larger EPSP followed by trains of IPSPs. The DCN, therefore, contains intrinsic inhibitory interneurones. 5. The parallel fibres of the DCN course superficially, near the stimulating electrodes, whereas the axons of the auditory nerve terminate in deeper areas. Thus, the monosynaptic EPSPs evoked from the pial surface are probably generated by parallel fibres. Apparently the inhibitory interneurones are also excited by a circuit including parallel fibres. 6. The putative neurotransmitter of parallel fibres, glutamate, excited all neurones tested. 7. Cells were sensitive both to glycine and to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Only strychnine, however, not picrotoxin or bicuculline, blocked IPSPs.


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