In addition to ascending auditory inputs, the external cortex of the inferior colliculus (ICX) receives prominent somatosensory inputs. To elucidate the extent of interaction between auditory and somatosensory representations at the level of IC, we explored the dual projections from the cochlear nucleus (CN) and the spinal trigeminal nucleus (Sp5) to the inferior colliculus (IC) in the guinea pig, using both retrograde and anterograde tracing techniques. Injections of retrograde tracers into ICX resulted in cell-labeling primarily in the contralateral DCN and pars interpolaris and caudalis of Sp5. Labeled cells in DCN were either fusiform or multipolar cells, whereas those in Sp5 varied in size and shape. Injections of anterograde tracers into either CN or Sp5 resulted in terminal labeling in ICX primarily on the contralateral side. Most projection fibers from Sp5 terminated in a laminar pattern from ventromedial to dorsolateral within the ventrolateral ICX, the ventral border of IC, and the ventromedial edge of IC (collectively termed "the ventrolateral border region of IC," ICXV). Less dense anterograde labeling was observed in lateral and rostral ICX. Injecting different tracers into both Sp5 and CN confirmed the overlapping areas of convergent projections from Sp5 and CN in IC: The most intense dual labeling was seen in the ICXV, and less intense dual labeling was also observed in the rostral part of ICX. This convergence of projection fibers from CN and Sp5 provides an anatomical substrate for multimodal integration in the IC.
J. Comp. Neurol. 495:100-112, 2006. (c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.