Cell types and response properties of neurons in the ventral division of the medial geniculate body of the rabbit

Justin S. Cetas, Robin O. Price, David S. Velenovsky, Jennifer J. Crowe, Donal G. Sinex, Nathaniel T. McMullen

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27 Scopus citations


Although there is evidence for multiple classes of thalamic relay neurons in the auditory thalamus, correlative anatomical and physiological studies are lacking. We have used the juxtacellular labeling technique, in conjunction with Nissl, Golgi, and immunocytochemical methods, to study the morphology and response properties of cells in the ventral division of the medial geniculate body of the rabbit. Single units in the ventral division of the medial geniculate body (MGV) were characterized extracellularly with monaural and binaural tone and noise bursts (100- to 250-msec duration). Characterized units were filled with biocytin and visualized with an antibody enhanced diaminobenzidine reaction. A total of 31 neurons were physiologically characterized and labeled with the juxtacellular technique. Labeled neurons were fully reconstructed from serial sections by using a computer microscope system. Three subregions of the rabbit MGV were identified, each characterized by differences in Nissl architecture, calcium-binding protein expression, and by the dendritic orientation of tufted relay neurons. In general, the dendritic fields of relay neurons were closely aligned with the cellular laminae. Qualitative and quantitative analyses revealed two types of presumptive relay neurons within the MGV. Type I cells had thick dendrites with a greater total volume and morphologically diverse appendages compared with the Type II cells whose dendrites were thin with a moderate number of small spines. Both classes were acoustically responsive and exhibited a variety of response patterns, including onset, offset, and sustained responses. In terms of binaural characteristics, most (ca. 53%) labeled neurons were of the EE type, with the remaining cells classified as EO (27%) or EI (20%) response types. Two types of presumptive interneurons were also seen: Bipolar neurons with large dendritic fields and a small neurogliaform variety. Cell types and dendritic orientation within the MGV are discussed in terms of the physiological organization of the rabbit auditory thalamus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)78-96
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 25 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Auditory system
  • Hearing, cerebral cortex
  • Thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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