Evidence for a direct, short latency projection from the dorsal cochlear nucleus to the auditory thalamus in the guinea pig

Eur J Neurosci. 2006 Jul;24(2):491-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2006.04930.x. Epub 2006 Jul 12.


The auditory thalamus (medial geniculate body, MGB) receives its main ascending input from the inferior colliculus (IC), which was considered to be an obligatory relay for all auditory inputs to the MGB. However, recent anatomical evidence in the rat [ (Malmierca et al. 2002) J. Neurosci., 22, 10891-10897] has confirmed the presence of a direct pathway from the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) to the medial MGB, bypassing the IC, as previously suggested in the chimpanzee [ (Strominger et al. 1977) J. Comp. Neurol., 172, 349-366]. We show that this direct pathway is also present in the guinea pig and apparently results in short latency responses in the thalamus. Injection of anterograde tracer into the DCN of five adult guinea pigs revealed terminal boutons and axonal swellings distributed throughout the medial MGB, but absent from all other MGB subdivisions. Electrophysiological recordings made from 39 adult guinea pigs (24 male & 15 female) showed neurons in the medial MGB responded with significantly shorter latencies to acoustic clicks (7.8 ms) than those from the ventral (11.0 ms), dorsal (14.4 ms), or shell (16.5 ms) MGB, consistent with the direct pathway from the DCN. The function of the direct pathway is not known but may be related to the fast responses and the role of the medial MGB in integrating combined somatosensory and auditory inputs. Short latency responses may be important in priming the auditory cortex to prepare it for rapid analysis and in recruiting the amygdala for rapid emotional responses such as fear.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Amygdala / physiology
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology
  • Auditory Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Biotin / analogs & derivatives
  • Cochlear Nucleus / anatomy & histology*
  • Cochlear Nucleus / physiology
  • Dextrans
  • Fear / physiology
  • Female
  • Geniculate Bodies / anatomy & histology*
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Male
  • Neural Conduction / physiology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure*
  • Reaction Time / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Touch / physiology


  • Dextrans
  • biotinylated dextran amine
  • Biotin