Frequency organization of the dorsal cochlear nucleus in cats

George A. Spirou, Bradford J. May, Debora D. Wright, David K. Ryugo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Sensory epithelia are often spatially reiterated throughout their representation in the central nervous system. Differential expression of this representation can reveal specializations of the organism's behavioral repertoire. For example, the nature of the central representation of sound frequency in the auditory system has provided important clues in understanding ecological pressures for acoustic processing. In this context, we used electrophysiological techniques to map the frequency organization of the dorsal cochlear nucleus in nine cats. Frequency responses were sampled in increments of 100–200 μm along electrode tracks that entered the dosomedial border of the nucleus and exited at the ventrolateral border. Electrode tracks were oriented parallel to the long (or strial) axis of the nucleus so that each penetration sampled neural responses for most of the cat's audible frequencies and remained in or near the pyramidal cell layer for several millimeters. Nearly identical distance versus frequency relationships were obtained for different rostral‐caudal locations within the same cat as well as for different cats. Frequency responses systematically decreased from above 50 kHz at the most dorsomedial locations in the nucleus to below 1 kHz in the most ventrolateral regions. The rate of frequency change was roughly three times greater in high frequency regions than in low frequency regions. In addition, the highest pyramidal cell density and longest rostral‐caudal axis was observed for the middle third of the dorsal‐ventral axis of the nucleus. As a result, roughly half of all pyramidal cells responded to frequencies between 8–30 kHz. The representation of neural tissue for these frequencies may be related to the importance of spectral cues in sound localization. © 1993 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-52
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 1993


  • auditory system
  • electrophysiology
  • hearing
  • horseradish peroxidase
  • single unit recording
  • tonotopy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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