Time course of embryonic midbrain and thalamic auditory connection development in mice as revealed by carbocyanine dye tracing

J Comp Neurol. 2004 Nov 15;479(3):309-27. doi: 10.1002/cne.20328.


Central auditory connections develop in mice before the onset of hearing, around postnatal day 7. Two previous studies have investigated the development of auditory nuclei projections and lateral lemniscal nuclear projections in embryonic rats, respectively. Here, we provide detail for the first time of the initiation and progression of projections from the inferior colliculus (IC) to the medial geniculate body (MGB) and from the MGB to the auditory cortex (AC). Overall, the developmental progression of projections follows that of terminal mitoses in various nuclei, suggesting the consistent use of a developmental timetable at a given nucleus, independent of that of other nuclei. Our data further suggest that neurons project specifically and reciprocally from the MGB to the AC as early as embryonic day 14.5. These projections develop approximately a day before the reciprocal connections between the MGB and IC and before development of projections from the auditory nuclei to the IC. The development of IC projections is prolonged and progresses from rostral to caudal areas. Brainstem nuclear projections to the IC arrive first from the lateral lemniscus nuclei then the superior olive and finally the cochlear nuclei. Overall, the auditory connection development strongly suggests that most of the overall specificity of nuclear connections is set up at least 2 weeks before the onset of sound-mediated cochlea responses in mice and, thus, is likely governed predominantly by molecular genetic clues.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Auditory Cortex / cytology
  • Auditory Cortex / embryology*
  • Auditory Cortex / growth & development
  • Auditory Pathways / cytology
  • Auditory Pathways / embryology*
  • Auditory Pathways / growth & development
  • Auditory Perception / physiology
  • Axonal Transport / physiology
  • Carbocyanines
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / cytology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / embryology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / growth & development
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Geniculate Bodies / cytology
  • Geniculate Bodies / embryology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / growth & development
  • Growth Cones / physiology
  • Growth Cones / ultrastructure
  • Inferior Colliculi / cytology
  • Inferior Colliculi / embryology*
  • Inferior Colliculi / growth & development
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Staining and Labeling
  • Time Factors


  • Carbocyanines
  • Fluorescent Dyes