Auditory cortical projections to the cat inferior colliculus

J Comp Neurol. 1998 Oct 19;400(2):147-74.


The projection from 11 auditory cortical areas onto the subdivisions of the inferior colliculus was studied in adult cats by using two different anterograde tracers to label cortico-collicular (CC) axon terminals. The main results were that: 1) a significant CC projection arose from every field; 2) the principal inferior collicular targets were the dorsal cortex, lateral nucleus, caudal cortex, and intercollicular tegmentum, with only a sparse projection to the central nucleus; 3) the input was usually bilateral, with the ipsilateral side by far the most heavily labeled, and the contralateral projection was a symmetrical subset of the ipsilateral input; 4) the CC system is both divergent and convergent, with single cortical areas projecting to six or more collicular subdivisions, and each auditory midbrain subdivision receiving a convergent projection from two to ten cortical areas; 5) cortical areas devoid of tonotopic organization have topographic projections to collicular target nuclei; 6) the heaviest CC projection terminated in the caudal half of the inferior colliculus; and finally, 7) the relative strength of the cortico-collicular labeling was far less than that of the corresponding corticothalamic projection in the same experiments. The CC system is strategically placed to influence both descending and ascending pathways arising in the inferior colliculus. Nuclei that participate in the premotor system, like the inferior collicular subdivisions that project to the pons, receive substantial corticofugal input. Both the dorsal (pericentral) and the lateral (external) nuclei of the inferior colliculus project to parts of the medial geniculate body whose closest auditory affiliations are with non-tonotopic cortical regions involved in higher order auditory perception. The cortico-collicular system may link brainstem and colliculo-thalamic circuits to coordinate premotor and perceptual aspects of hearing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Cortex / physiology*
  • Auditory Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology*
  • Auditory Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Axons / physiology
  • Brain Mapping*
  • Cats / physiology*
  • Inferior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Inferior Colliculi / ultrastructure