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By Alan H. Gardiner

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The response patterns of the principal output neurons of the DCN — the fusiform and giant cells — are highly complex, reflecting an abundance of inhibitory neurons acting on the incoming afferent volley arriving directly from the auditory nerve and indirectly via D- and T- stellate cells of the VCN. Fusiform cells have been identified physiologically by their characteristic firing of an onset spike followed by a pause and then resumption in firing (a “pauser” pattern). Giant cells have been associated with a gradual buildup in spike rate and hence are referred to as “buildup” cells.

2010). F. BRUGGE While most of the VCN neurons lie within the cochlear nerve branches, a cap area of uniformly small, spindle-shaped cells and thinly myelinated axons is found outside of this zone covering the lateral surface of the VCN (Fig. 2). The fine structure of the small cap cell resembles that of granule cells than it does of stellate cells. The function of this collection of neurons is not well understood. 2. Dorsal cochlear nucleus The DCN, in addition to having cochlear input, receives projections from numerous other auditory and non-auditory sources and with its extensive system of interneurons carries out complex processing before sending its output to higher centers of the central auditory system (Young and Davis, 2002; Oertel and Young, 2004).

First, convergence ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF THE HUMAN AUDITORY SYSTEM of cochlear input upon a bushy cell is limited to but one (or a few) primary afferent, which tends to preserve the spectral sensitivity and discharge pattern of incoming primary afferents. Frequency tuning and discharge patterns of spherical bushy cells resemble most closely those of the auditory nerve fibers with which they make synaptic contact and hence are referred to functionally as being “primary-like” (PL). Globular bushy cells are characterized by a similar discharge pattern while exhibiting a brief pause in sustained firing after a sharp onset response to a tone, the so-called “primary-like-with-notch” (PL-n) pattern.

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