Muscimol suppression of the dorsal cochlear nucleus impairs frequency discrimination in rats Academic Article uri icon


  • The cochlear nucleus is composed of three sub-nuclei: the dorsal (DCN), anteroventral (AVCN) and posteroventral cochlear nucleus (PVCN). In addition to connections between these sub-nuclei, each nucleus receives frequency specific tonotopically organised input from the cochlea. Evidence suggests that connections from the DCN to the AVCN are inhibitory and organised tonotopically but the functional significance of this pathway has yet to be elucidated. The possible role of this pathway in frequency discrimination using a T-maze behavioural paradigm and DCN suppression was examined. Five rats were trained on a two choice frequency discrimination task. Once frequency difference limens for 10-30% performance above chance were determined, rats had cannulae implanted bilaterally over the DCN. After recovery rats were tested on the behavioural task with nothing, saline and the GABA agonist muscimol injected into the DCN via the cannulae. Muscimol alone significantly reduced the rats ability to perform the task. This performance decrease was attributed to an inability to discriminate high frequency and not low frequency tones suggesting that place and not temporal coding of sound was compromised by DCN suppression. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that inhibitory drive from the DCN to AVCN may be crucial for the fine tuning of frequency information.

publication date

  • December 1, 1998