Functional organization of the cochlear nucleus of rufous horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus rouxi): frequencies and internal connections are arranged in slabs

J Comp Neurol. 1985 May 22;235(4):529-53. doi: 10.1002/cne.902350410.


The functional organization of the cochlear nucleus (CN) was studied with physiological recording and anatomical tracing techniques. Recordings were made from single CN neurons to examine their temporal firing patterns to tone burst stimuli and their frequency tuning characteristics. Recording loci of individual neurons were carefully monitored in order to understand how the functional properties of a cell relate to its location within the CN. We found that tonal frequencies were systematically represented in each of the three CN divisions (anteroventral, AVCN; posteroventral, PVCN; dorsal, DCN). Eight temporal response patterns were observed in CN neurons when stimulated at units' best excitatory frequencies (BF). With a few exceptions, neurons in each CN division could generate all eight firing patterns with different distributions for the three division. A focal injection of horseradish peroxidase (HRP), at the end of the physiological study, to a group of neurons possessing a similar BF in one CN division resulted in anterograde labeling of nerve terminals in the other two divisions at precisely the areas where the same frequency band was processed in these divisions. Labeled terminals in each division were closely congregated in the form of a thin slab. The slab orientation was division specific whereas its location was frequency specific, which could be predicted on the basis of physiological data. HRP injections into the DCN also resulted in retrograde labeling of somata in the AVCN and PVCN. On the other hand, only DCN neurons were retrogradely labeled when HRP was injected into the AVCN or the PVCN. These data showed how the three CN divisions are internally connected. Furthermore, retrogradely labeled cells occupied the same slabs where we found anterogradely labeled nerve terminals. Additionally, in a group of bats, HRP was injected into various functionally (i.e., BF) identified regions of the central nucleus of the inferior coliculus (IC) to clarify the type and location of CN projecting neurons. Retrogradely labeled cells in individual CN divisions likewise were arranged in slabs whose locations in the CN nuclei depended on the BFs of neurons at the injection site in the IC. These results show that slabs represent units of functional organization (i.e., tonal frequency, local connection and central projection) in the CN.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Chiroptera / anatomy & histology*
  • Chiroptera / physiology
  • Cochlear Nerve / anatomy & histology*
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiology
  • Female
  • Inferior Colliculi / anatomy & histology
  • Male
  • Pitch Perception / physiology
  • Pons / anatomy & histology*
  • Psychoacoustics