Auditory system development: primary auditory neurons and their targets

Annu Rev Neurosci. 2002;25:51-101. doi: 10.1146/annurev.neuro.25.112701.142849. Epub 2002 Feb 5.


The neurons of the cochlear ganglion transmit acoustic information between the inner ear and the brain. These placodally derived neurons must produce a topographically precise pattern of connections in both the inner ear and the brain. In this review, we consider the current state of knowledge concerning the development of these neurons, their peripheral and central connections, and their influences on peripheral and central target cells. Relatively little is known about the cellular and molecular regulation of migration or the establishment of precise topographic connection to the hair cells or cochlear nucleus (CN) neurons. Studies of mice with neurotrophin deletions are beginning to yield increasing understanding of variations in ganglion cell survival and resulting innervation patterns, however. Finally, existing evidence suggests that while ganglion cells have little influence on the differentiation of their hair cell targets, quite the opposite is true in the brain. Ganglion cell innervation and synaptic activity are essential for normal development of neurons in the cochlear nucleus.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / cytology
  • Auditory Pathways / embryology*
  • Auditory Pathways / metabolism
  • Cell Communication / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / cytology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / embryology*
  • Cochlear Nucleus / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / cytology
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / embryology*
  • Hair Cells, Auditory / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Nerve Growth Factors / deficiency
  • Nerve Growth Factors / genetics
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology
  • Neurons, Afferent / metabolism*
  • Spiral Ganglion / cytology
  • Spiral Ganglion / embryology*
  • Spiral Ganglion / metabolism


  • Nerve Growth Factors