In addition to auditory inputs, dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) pyramidal cells in the guinea pig receive and respond to somatosensory inputs and perform multisensory integration. DCN pyramidal cells respond to sounds with characteristic spike-timing patterns that are partially controlled by rapidly inactivating potassium conductances. Deactivating these conductances can modify both spike rate and spike timing of responses to sound. Somatosensory pathways are known to modify response rates to subsequent acoustic stimuli, but their effect on spike timing is unknown. Here, we demonstrate that preceding tonal stimulation with spinal trigeminal nucleus (Sp5) stimulation significantly alters the first spike latency, the first interspike interval and the average discharge regularity of firing evoked by the tone. These effects occur whether the neuron is excited or inhibited by Sp5 stimulation alone. Our results demonstrate that multisensory integration in DCN alters spike-timing representations of acoustic stimuli in pyramidal cells. These changes likely occur through synaptic modulation of intrinsic excitability or synaptic inhibition.
© 2010 The Authors. European Journal of Neuroscience © 2010 Federation of European Neuroscience Societies and Blackwell Publishing Ltd.