Volumes of cochlear nucleus regions in rodents

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Abstract

The cochlear nucleus receives all the coded information about sound from the cochlea and is the source of auditory information for the rest of the central auditory system. As such, it is a critical auditory nucleus. The sizes of the cochlear nucleus as a whole and its three major subdivisions – anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN), posteroventral cochlear nucleus (PVCN), and dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) - have been measured in a large number of mammals, but measurements of its subregions at a more detailed level for a variety of species have not previously been made. Size measurements are reported here for the summed granular regions, DCN layers, AVCN, PVCN, and interstitial nucleus in 15 different rodent species, as well as a lagomorph, carnivore, and small primate. This further refinement of measurements is important because the granular regions and superficial layers of the DCN appear to have some different functions than the other cochlear nucleus regions. Except for DCN layers in the mountain beaver, all regions were clearly identifiable in all the animals studied. Relative regional size differences among most of the rodents, and even the 3 non-rodents, were not large and did not show a consistent relation to their wide range of lifestyles and hearing parameters. However, the mountain beaver, and to a lesser extent the pocket gopher, two rodents that live in tunnel systems, had relative sizes of summed granular regions and DCN molecular layer distinctly larger than those of the other mammals. Among all the mammals studied, there was a high correlation between the size per body weight of summed granular regions and that of the DCN molecular layer, consistent with other evidence for a close relationship between granule cells and superficial DCN neurons.

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