Auditory pathway and auditory activation of primary visual targets in the blind mole rat (Spalax ehrenbergi): I. 2-deoxyglucose study of subcortical centers

J Comp Neurol. 1989 Jun 8;284(2):253-74. doi: 10.1002/cne.902840209.


The blind mole rat Spalax ehrenbergi is a subterranean rodent that shows striking behavioral, structural, and physiological adaptations to fossorial life including highly degenerated eyes and optic nerves and a behavioral audiogram that indicates high specialization for low-frequency hearing. A 2-deoxyglucose functional mapping of acoustically activated structures, in conjunction with Nissl/Klüver-Barrera-stained material, revealed a typical mammalian auditory pathway with some indications for specialized low-frequency hearing such as a poorly differentiated lateral nucleus and a well-developed medial nucleus in the superior olive complex. The most striking finding was a marked 2-deoxyglucose labeling of the dorsal lateral geniculate body and of cortical regions that correspond to visual areas in sighted rodents. The results render the blind mole rat a good model system for studying natural neural plasticity and intermodal compensation. In this report, we confine ourselves to the subcortical levels. The cortical level will be dealt comprehensively in a following paper.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Auditory Pathways / metabolism
  • Blindness* / genetics
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cochlear Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Deoxyglucose / metabolism
  • Geniculate Bodies / anatomy & histology
  • Inferior Colliculi / anatomy & histology
  • Models, Biological
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Rodentia / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Pathways / anatomy & histology*
  • Visual Pathways / metabolism


  • Deoxyglucose