Ultrastructural study of the granule cell domain of the cochlear nucleus in rats: Mossy fiber endings and their targets

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77 Scopus citations


The principal projection neurons of the cochlear nucleus receive the bulk of their input from the auditory nerve. These projection neurons reside in the core of the nucleus and are surrounded by an external shell, which is called the granule cell domain. Interneurons of the cochlear granule cell domain are the target for nonprimary auditory inputs, including projections from the superior olivary complex, inferior colliculus, and auditory cortex. The granule cell domain also receives projections from the cuneate and trigeminal nuclei, which are first-order nuclei of the somatosensory system. The cellular targets of the nonprimary projections are mostly unknown due to a lack of information regarding postsynaptic profiles in the granule cell areas. In the present paper, we examined the synaptic relationships between a heterogeneous class of large synaptic terminals called mossy fibers and their targets within subdivisions of the granule cell domain known as the lamina and superficial layer. By using light and electron microscopic methods in these subdivisions, we provide evidence for three different neuron classes that receive input from the mossy fibers: granule cells, unipolar brush cells, and a previously undescribed class called chestnut cells. The distinct synaptic relations between mossy fibers and members of each neuron class further imply fundamentally separate roles for processing acoustic signals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-360
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


  • Golgi cell
  • chestnut cell
  • granule cell
  • synapse
  • unipolar brush cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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