Descending and tonotopic projection patterns from the auditory cortex to the inferior colliculus

M. M. Straka, R. Hughes, P. Lee, H. H. Lim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The inferior colliculus (. IC) receives many corticofugal projections, which can mediate plastic changes such as shifts in frequency tuning or excitability of IC neurons. While the densest projections are found in the IC's external cortices, fibers originating from the primary auditory cortex (. AI) have been observed throughout the IC's central nucleus (. ICC), and these projections have shown to be organized tonotopically. Some studies have also found projections from other core and non-core cortical regions, though the organization and function of these projections are less known. In guinea pig, there exists a non-core ventrorostral belt (. VRB) region that has primary-like properties and has often been mistaken for AI, with the clearest differentiating characteristic being VRB's longer response latencies. To better understand the auditory corticofugal descending system beyond AI, we investigated if there are projections from VRB to the ICC and if they exhibit a different projection pattern than those from AI. In this study, we performed experiments in ketamine-anesthetized guinea pigs, in which we positioned 32-site electrode arrays within AI, VRB, and ICC. We identified the monosynaptic connections between AI-to-ICC and VRB-to-ICC using an antidromic stimulation method, and we analyzed their locations across the midbrain using three-dimensional histological techniques. Compared to the corticocollicular projections to the ICC from AI, there were fewer projections to the ICC from VRB, and these projections had a weaker tonotopic organization. The majority of VRB projections were observed in the caudal-medial versus the rostral-lateral region along an isofrequency lamina of the ICC, which is in contrast to the AI projections that were scattered throughout an ICC lamina. These findings suggest that the VRB directly modulates sound information within the ascending lemniscal pathway with a different or complementary role compared to the modulatory effects of AI, which may have implications for treating hearing disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)325-337
Number of pages13
StatePublished - Aug 6 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Sarah Offutt for her thoughtful criticism of this work. This work was supported by start-up funds from the University of Minnesota – United States and NIH NIDCD – United States R03DC011589 .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 IBRO.

Copyright 2015 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Auditory cortex
  • Corticofugal
  • Feedback
  • Inferior colliculus
  • Modulation
  • Tonotopy


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