Olivocochlear neurons in the chinchilla: A retrograde fluorescent labelling study

William J. Azeredo, Molly L. Kliment, Barbara J. Morley, Evan Relkin, Norma B. Slepecky, Anita Sterns, W. Bruce Warr, J. Mathew Weekly, Charles I. Woods

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Although the chinchilla is widely used as a model for auditory research, little is known about the distribution and morphology of its olivocochlear neurons. Here, we report on the olivocochlear neurons projecting to one cochlea, as determined by single and double retrograde fluorescent tracer techniques. 10 adult chinchillas were anesthetized and given either unilateral or bilateral injections of a fluorescent tracer (either Fluoro- Gold or Fast Blue) into scala tympani or as a control, a unilateral injection into the middle ear cavity. The results indicate that there are similarities as well as significant differences between the chinchilla and other species of rodents in the distributions of their olivocochlear neurons. Based on three well-labelled cases, there was a mean total of 1168 olivocochlear neurons in the chinchilla. Of these, the majority (mean 787) were small, lateral olivocochlear neurons found almost exclusively within the ipsilateral lateral superior olivary nucleus. The next largest group consisted of a mean of 280 medial olivocochlear neurons virtually all of which were located in the dorsomedial peri-olivary nucleus. Chinchilla medial olivocochlear neurons were more predominantly crossed in their projections (4:1) than in any known species. The smallest group of olivocochlear neurons (mean 101) consisted of larger lateral olivocochlear neurons (shell neurons) which were located on the margins of the superior olivary nucleus and which projected mainly (2.2:1) ipsilaterally. Double retrograde labelling was observed only in medial olivocochlear neurons and occurred in only 1-2% of these cells. The results confirm previous findings which indicated a relative paucity of fibers belonging to the uncrossed as compared to the crossed olivocochlear bundle. This, together with the strong apical bias of the uncrossed projection reported previously, offers possible explanations for the apparent absence of efferent-mediated suppressive effects of contralateral acoustic stimulation in this species. Regarding the lateral olivocochlear system, the chinchilla is shown to possess both intrinsic and shell neurons, as in the rat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)57-70
Number of pages14
JournalHearing Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Aug 1999


  • Chinchilla
  • Efferent innervation of the cochlea
  • Olivocochlear bundle
  • Olivocochlear neuron
  • Superior olivary complex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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