The central nucleus of the inferior colliculus (CNIC) contains different types of neurons and is a source of ascending projection to the medial geniculate body (MGB), commissural projection to the contralateral IC, direct descending projection to the cochlea nucleus (CN) and indirect projection to the CN via the superior olivary complex (SOC). Using a retrograde tracing technique, we examined what kind of neurons and what percentage of neurons of each type recognized in the CNIC participated in the above-mentioned four projection pathways. We also examined whether the individual CNIC neurons send the collateral to the MGB, the contralateral IC, the CN and the SOC.
In the present study, we demonstrated that the neurons participating in the four projections could be morphologically classified into two types of neurons with soma size variation. The percentages of neurons of each type differed among the four projection pathways. Using a double-labeling technique, we found very few double-labeled neurons, indicating the collateral projections to the ipsilateral MGB and the contralateral IC. There were no double-labeled neurons in the collateral projections between the other combinations of targets. Therefore, we conclude that the ascending projection, the commissural projection and the descending projection to these targets arise from separate populations of neurons.