Direct visualization of the murine dorsal cochlear nucleus for optogenetic stimulation of the auditory pathway

J Vis Exp. 2015 Jan 20:(95):52426. doi: 10.3791/52426.


Investigation into the use of virus-mediated gene transfer to arrest or reverse hearing loss has largely been relegated to the peripheral auditory system. Few studies have examined gene transfer to the central auditory system. The dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) of the brainstem, which contains second order neurons of the auditory pathway, is a potential site for gene transfer. In this protocol, a technique for direct and maximal exposure of the murine DCN via a posterior fossa approach is demonstrated. This approach allows for either acute or survival surgery. Following direct visualization of the DCN, a host of experiments are possible, including injection of opsins into the cochlear nucleus and subsequent stimulation by an optical fiber coupled to a blue light laser. Other neurophysiology experiments, such as electrical stimulation and neural injector tracings are also feasible. The level of visualization and the duration of stimulation achievable make this approach applicable to a wide range of experiments.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Video-Audio Media

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Brain Stem / physiology
  • Cochlear Nucleus / physiology*
  • Cochlear Nucleus / surgery*
  • Electric Stimulation / methods
  • Gene Transfer Techniques
  • Mice
  • Models, Animal
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Optogenetics