Glycine and GABA influence binaural processing in the inferior colliculus of the mustache bat

J Neurophysiol. 1995 Oct;74(4):1701-13. doi: 10.1152/jn.1995.74.4.1701.


1. The mammalian inferior colliculus contains large populations of binaural cells that are excited by stimulation of the contralateral ear and are inhibited by stimulation of the ipsilateral ear, and are called excitatory/inhibitory (EI) cells. Neurons with EI properties are initially created in the lateral superior olive (LSO), which, in turn, sends strong bilateral projections to the inferior colliculus. The questions that we address in this report are 1) whether the inhibition evoked by stimulation of the ipsilateral ear occurs at the inferior colliculus or whether it occurs in a lower nucleus, presumably the LSO; and 2) if the ipsilaterally evoked inhibition occurs at the inferior colliculus, is the inhibition a consequence of glycinergic innervation or is it a consequence of GABAergic innervation. To study these questions, we recorded from 61 EI neurons in the inferior colliculus of the mustache bat before and during the iontophoretic application of the glycine receptor antagonist, strychnine. We also tested the effects of the gamma-aminobutyric acid-A (GABAA) receptor antagonist, bicuculline, on 38 of the 61 neurons that were tested with strychnine. The main finding is that glycinergic or GABAergic inhibition, or both, contribute to the ipsilaterally evoked inhibition in approximately 50% of the EI neurons in the inferior colliculus. 2. Strychnine and bicuculline had different effects on the magnitude of the spike counts evoked by stimulation of the contralateral (excitatory) ear. On average, strychnine caused the maximum spike count evoked by contralateral stimulation to increase by only 23%. The relatively small effects of strychnine on response magnitude are in marked contrast to the effects of bicuculline, which usually caused much larger increases in spike counts. For example, although strychnine caused spike counts to more than double in approximately 25% of the collicular neurons, bicuculline caused a doubling of the spike count in approximately 60% of the cells. 3. The inhibitory influences of ipsilateral stimulation were evaluated by driving the neurons with a fixed intensity at the contralateral ear and then documenting the reductions in spike counts due to the presentation of progressively higher intensities at the ipsilateral ear. In 64% of the neurons sampled, blocking glycinergic inhibition with strychnine had little or no effect on the ipsilaterally evoked inhibition. These cells remained as strongly inhibited during the application of strychnine as they did before its application. In addition, the ipsilateral intensity that produced complete or nearly complete spike suppression in the predrug condition was also unchanged by strychnine. 4. In 36% of the neurons, strychnine markedly reduced the degree of ipsilaterally evoked spike suppression. In five of these neurons, there was a complete elimination of the ipsilateral inhibition: these neurons were transformed from strongly inhibited EI neurons into monaural neurons. 5. The influence of both strychnine and bicuculline was tested sequentially in 38 neurons. In about one-half of these cells, (53%, 20/38) the ipsilaterally evoked inhibition was unaffected by either drug. In 10 other units (26%), both drugs substantially reduced or eliminated the ipsilaterally evoked inhibition. In most of these cells, both bicuculline and strychnine reduced the ipsilaterally evoked inhibition to a similar degree. In the remaining eight cells studied with both drugs (21%), the ipsilaterally evoked inhibition was reduced or eliminated by one of the drugs, but not by both. 6. These results show that both glycinergic and GABAergic projections influence the ipsilaterally evoked inhibition in about one-half of the EI neurons in the inferior colliculus. The glycinergic inhibition elicited by ipsilateral stimulation is most likely due to projections from the ipsilateral lateral superior olive, whereas the GABAergic inhibition evoked by ipsilateral stimulation is most likely caused b

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Animals
  • Bicuculline / pharmacology
  • Chiroptera / physiology*
  • Ear / physiology*
  • Electrophysiology
  • Glycine / physiology*
  • Inferior Colliculi / cytology
  • Inferior Colliculi / drug effects
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Neural Inhibition / drug effects
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Strychnine / pharmacology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Strychnine
  • Glycine
  • Bicuculline