Functional organization of the medial division of the medial geniculate body of the cat: tonotopic organization, spatial distribution of response properties and cortical connections

Hear Res. 1989 May;39(1-2):127-42. doi: 10.1016/0378-5955(89)90086-5.


The discharge properties of 735 single units located in the pars magnocellularis (M) of the medial division of the medial geniculate body (MGB) were studied in 23 nitrous oxide anesthetized cats in response to simple acoustic stimuli (clicks, noise and tone bursts). A systematic decrease of single unit characteristic frequencies (CF) was observed along electrode track portions crossing M from dorso-medial to ventro-lateral. These data indicate that M is tonotopically organized with an arrangement of low CF units latero-ventrally and high CF units dorso-medially. This preferential arrangement of single units as a function of their CF was consistent with the location and orientation of clusters of labeled cells in M resulting from wheat-germ agglutinin labeled with horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) injections in CF defined loci in the anterior (AAF) or primary (AI) auditory cortical fields. The quality of the tonotopic arrangement was low caudally and increased in the rostral direction, indicating that this tonotopicity concerns mainly the anterior half of M. Response latencies to clicks, noise and tone bursts were on average longer in the posterior part of M than in its anterior part. Time-locking of discharges in response to repetitive acoustic pulses was more frequent anteriorly than posteriorly and the upper limiting rate of locking was on average higher rostrally (up to 200-300 Hz). In contrast, other response properties such as responsiveness to the various combinations of simple acoustic stimuli, response patterns and tuning were more randomly distributed in M, showing the whole range of response properties seen in the MGB. Data derived from several injections of WGA-HRP performed in distinct auditory cortical fields in several animals indicated that M projects to the tonotopic cortical fields (AAF, AI and PAF) as well as to the non-tonotopically organized secondary auditory cortex (AII). The contribution of M to the total thalamic input reaching each field of the auditory cortex was quantitatively more important for AAF (30%) and PAF (20%) than for AI and AII (about 10% each).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cats
  • Evoked Potentials, Auditory*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Geniculate Bodies / physiology*
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology
  • Neural Analyzers / physiology
  • Reaction Time / physiology*