Characterization of the superior olivary complex ofCanis lupus domesticus

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Abstract

The superior olivary complex (SOC) is a collection of brainstem auditory nuclei which play essential roles in the localization of sound sources, temporal coding of vocalizations and descending modulation of the cochlea. Notwithstanding, the SOC nuclei vary considerably between species in accordance with the auditory needs of the animal. The canine SOC was subjected to anatomical and physiological examination nearly 50 years ago and was then virtually forgotten. Herein, we aimed to characterize the nuclei of the canine SOC using quantitative morphometrics, estimation of neuronal number, histochemistry for perineuronal nets and immunofluorescence for the calcium binding proteins calbindin and calretinin. We found the principal nuclei to be extremely well developed: the lateral superior olive (LSO) contained over 20,000 neurons and the medial superior olive (MSO) contained over 15,000 neurons. In nearly all non-chiropterian terrestrial mammals, the MSO exists as a thin, vertical column of neurons. The canine MSO was folded into a U-shaped contour and had associated with the ventromedial tip a small, round collection of neurons we termed the tail nucleus of the MSO. Further, we found evidence within the LSO, MSO and medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) for significant morphological variations along the mediolateral or rostrocaudal axes. Finally, the majority of MNTB neurons were calbindin-immunopositive and associated with calretinin-immunopositive calyceal terminals. Together, these observations suggest the canine SOC complies with the basic plan of the mammalian SOC but possesses a number of unique anatomical features.

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