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author:("Bal, ramadan")
1.  Generating synchrony from the asynchronous: compensation for cochlear traveling wave delays by the dendrites of individual brainstem neurons 
Broadband transient sounds, such as clicks and consonants, activate a traveling wave in the cochlea. This wave evokes firing in auditory nerve fibers that are tuned to high frequencies several milliseconds earlier than in fibers tuned to low frequencies. Despite this substantial traveling wave delay, octopus cells in the brainstem receive broadband input and respond to clicks with submillisecond temporal precision. The dendrites of octopus cells lie perpendicular to the tonotopically organized array of auditory nerve fibers, placing the earliest arriving inputs most distally and the latest arriving closest to the soma. Here, we test the hypothesis that the topographic arrangement of synaptic inputs on dendrites of octopus cells allows octopus cells to compensate the traveling wave delay. We show that in mice the full cochlear traveling wave delay is 1.6 ms. Because the dendrites of each octopus cell spread across about one third of the tonotopic axis, a click evokes a soma directed sweep of synaptic input lasting 0.5 ms in individual octopus cells. Morphologically and biophysically realistic, computational models of octopus cells show that soma-directed sweeps with durations matching in vivo measurements result in the largest and sharpest somatic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs). A low input resistance and activation of a low-voltage-activated potassium conductance that are characteristic of octopus cells are important determinants of sweep sensitivity. We conclude that octopus cells have dendritic morphologies and biophysics tailored to accomplish the precise encoding of broadband transient sounds.
doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0272-12.2012
PMCID: PMC3417346  PMID: 22764237
ventral cochlear nucleus; octopus cell; cochlea; broadband transient sounds; cable analysis; compartmental modeling; traveling wave delay
2.  The Multiple Functions of T Stellate/Multipolar/Chopper Cells in the Ventral Cochlear Nucleus 
Hearing research  2010;276(1-2):61-69.
Acoustic information is brought to the brain by auditory nerve fibers, all of which terminate in the cochlear nuclei, and is passed up the auditory pathway through the principal cells of the cochlear nuclei. A population of neurons variously known as T stellate, type I multipolar, planar multipolar, or chopper cells forms one of the major ascending auditory pathways through the brain stem. T Stellate cells are sharply tuned; as a population they encode the spectrum of sounds. In these neurons, phasic excitation from the auditory nerve is made more tonic by feed forward excitation, coactivation of inhibitory with excitatory inputs, relatively large excitatory currents through NMDA receptors, and relatively little synaptic depression. The mechanisms that make firing tonic also obscure the fine structure of sounds that is represented in the excitatory inputs from the auditory nerve and account for the characteristic chopping response patterns with which T stellate cells respond to tones. In contrast with other principal cells of the ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN), T stellate cells lack a low-voltage-activated potassium conductance and are therefore sensitive to small, steady, neuromodulating currents. The presence of cholinergic, serotonergic and noradrenergic receptors allows the excitability of these cells to be modulated by medial olivocochlear efferent neurons and by neuronal circuits associated with arousal. T Stellate cells deliver acoustic information to the ipsilateral dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN), ventral nucleus of the trapezoid body (VNTB), periolivary regions around the lateral superior olivary nucleus (LSO), and to the contralateral ventral lemniscal nuclei (VNLL) and inferior colliculus (IC). It is likely that T stellate cells participate in feedback loops through both medial and lateral olivocochlear efferent neurons and they may be a source of ipsilateral excitation of the LSO.
doi:10.1016/j.heares.2010.10.018
PMCID: PMC3078527  PMID: 21056098
ventral cochlear nucleus; brainstem auditory pathways; ion channels; patch-clamp recording
3.  Electrophysiological Properties of Octopus Neurons of the Cat Cochlear Nucleus: an In Vitro Study 
Electrophysiological studies from mice in vitro have suggested that octopus cells of the mammalian ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN) are anatomically and biophysically specialized for detecting the coincident firing of a population of auditory nerve fibers. Recordings from cats in vivo have shown that octopus cells fire rapidly and with exceptional temporal precision as they convey the timing of that coincidence to higher auditory centers. The current study addresses the question whether the biophysical properties of octopus cells that have until now been examined only in mice, are shared by octopus cells in cats. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings confirm that octopus cells in brain slices from kittens share the anatomical and biophysical features of octopus cells in mice. As in mice, octopus cells in kittens have large cell bodies and thick dendrites that extend in one direction. Voltage changes produced by depolarizing and hyperpolarizing current injection were small and rapid. Input resistances and membrane time constants in octopus cells of 16-day-old kittens were 15.8 ± 1.5 MΩ (n = 16) and 1.28 ± 0.3 ms (n = 16), respectively. Octopus cells fired only a single action potential at the onset of a depolarizing current pulse; suprathreshold stimuli were greater than 1.8 nA. A tetrodotoxin (TTX)-sensitive sodium conductance (gNa) was responsible for the generation of the action potentials. Octopus cells displayed outward rectification that lasted for the duration of the depolarizing pulses. Hyperpolarizations produced by the injection of current exhibited a depolarizing sag of the membrane potential toward the resting value. A 4-aminopyridine (4-AP) and α-dendrotoxin (α-DTX)-sensitive, low-voltage-activated potassium conductance (gKL) and a ZD7288-sensitive, mixed-cation conductance (gh) were partially activated at rest, giving the octopus cells low input resistances and, as a consequence, brief time constants. In 7-day-old kittens, action potentials were taller and broader, input resistances higher, and both inward and outward rectification was weaker than in 16-day-old kittens. Also as in mice, stellate cells of the VCN fired trains of action potentials with constant interspike intervals when they were depolarized (n = 10) and bushy cells of the VCN fired only a single action potential at the onset of depolarizations (n = 6). In conclusion, the similarity of octopus cells in mice and kittens suggests that the anatomical and biophysical specializations that allow octopus cells to detect and convey synchronous firing among auditory nerve fibers are common to all mammals.
doi:10.1007/s10162-009-0159-x
PMCID: PMC2674202  PMID: 19277784
auditory pathways; cochlear nucleus; octopus cell; patch clamp; cat
4.  Voltage-activated Calcium Currents in Octopus Cells of the Mouse Cochlear Nucleus 
Octopus cells, neurons in the most posterior and dorsal part of the mammalian ventral cochlear nucleus, convey the timing of synchronous firing of auditory nerve fibers to targets in the contralateral superior paraolivary nucleus and ventral nucleus of the lateral lemniscus. The low input resistances and short time constants at rest that arise from the partial activation of a large, low-voltage-activated K+ conductance (gKL) and a large mixed-cation, hyperpolarization-activated conductance (gh) enable octopus cells to detect coincident firing of auditory nerve fibers with exceptional temporal precision. Octopus cells fire conventional, Na+ action potentials but a voltage-sensitive Ca2+ conductance was also detected. In this study, we explore the nature of that calcium conductance under voltage-clamp. Currents, carried by Ca2+ or Ba2+ and blocked by 0.4 mM Cd2+, were activated by depolarizations positive to −50 mV and peaked at −23 mV. At −23 mV they reached 1.1 ± 0.1 nA in the presence of 5 mM Ca2+ and 1.6 ± 0.1 nA in 5 mM Ba2+. Ten micromolar BAY K 8644, an agonist of high-voltage-activated L-type channels, enhanced IBa by 63 ± 11% (n = 8) and 150 μM nifedipine, an antagonist of L-type channels, reduced the IBa by 65 ± 5% (n = 5). Meanwhile, 0.5 μM ω-Agatoxin IVA, an antagonist of P/Q-type channels, or 1 μM ω-conotoxin GVIA, an antagonist of N-type channels, suppressed IBa by 15 ± 4% (n = 5) and 9 ± 4% (n = 5), respectively. On average 16% of the current remained in the presence of the cocktail of blockers, indicative of the presence of R-type channels. Together these experiments show that octopus cells have a depolarization-sensitive gCa that is largely formed from L-type Ca2+ channels and that P/Q-, N-, and R-type channels are expressed at lower levels in octopus cells.
doi:10.1007/s10162-007-0091-x
PMCID: PMC2538346  PMID: 17710492
voltage-sensitive calcium channels;  cochlear nucleus; hearing; patch clamp; brain slices

Results 1-4 (4)