Convergence of auditory nerve fibers onto bushy cells in the ventral cochlear nucleus: implications of a computational model

J Neurophysiol. 1993 Dec;70(6):2562-83. doi: 10.1152/jn.1993.70.6.2562.


1. Convergence of auditory nerve (AN) fibers onto bushy cells of the ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN) was investigated with a model that describes the electrical membrane properties of these cells. The model consists of a single compartment, representing the soma, and includes three voltage-sensitive ion channels (fast sodium, delayed-rectifier-like potassium, and low-threshold potassium). These three channels have characteristics derived from voltage clamp data of VCN bushy cells. The model also contains a leakage channel, membrane capacitance, and synaptic inputs. The model accurately reproduces the membrane rectification seen in current clamp studies of bushy cells, as well as their unique current clamp responses. 2. In this study, the number and synaptic strength of excitatory AN inputs to the model were varied to investigate the relationship between input convergence parameters and response characteristics. From 1 to 20 excitatory synaptic inputs were applied through channels in parallel with the voltage-gated channels. Each synapse was driven by an independent AN spike train; spike arrivals produced brief (approximately 0.5 ms) conductance increases. The number (NS) and conductance (AE) of these inputs were systematically varied. The input spike trains were generated as a renewal point process that accurately models characteristics of AN fibers (refractoriness, adaptation, onset latency, irregularity of discharge, and phase locking). Adaptation characteristics of both high and low spontaneous rate (SR) AN fibers were simulated. 3. As NS and AE vary over the ranges 1-20 and 3-80 nS, respectively, the full range of response types seen in VCN bushy cells are produced by the model, with AN inputs typical of high-SR AN fibers. These include primarylike (PL), primarylike-with-notch (Pri-N), and onset-L (On-L). In addition, Onset responses, whose association with bushy cells in uncertain, and "dip" responses, which are not seen in the VCN, are produced. Dip responses occur with large NS and/or AE, and are due to depolarization block. When the AN inputs have the adaptation characteristics of low-SR AN fibers, PL--but not Pri-N or On-L responses--are produced. This suggests that neurons showing Pri-N and On-L responses must receive high-SR AN inputs. 4. The regularity of discharge of the model is compared with that of VCN bushy cells, using a measure derived from the mean and standard deviation of interspike intervals. Regularity is an important constraint on the model because the regularity of VCN bushy cells is the same as that of their AN inputs.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiology*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology
  • Neurons / classification
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Olivary Nucleus / physiology*
  • Pitch Perception / physiology*
  • Potassium Channels / physiology
  • Refractory Period, Electrophysiological / physiology
  • Sodium Channels / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Vestibulocochlear Nerve / physiology*


  • Potassium Channels
  • Sodium Channels