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[octopus neurons] This cell type is found in the cochlear nucleus (Pollack et al, 2011) and has been characterized morphologically in various publications (Osen, 1969; Adams, 1986; Kane, 1973; Bal and Baydas, 2009). Bal and Baydas (2009) have reported on the electrophysiological properties of cat and mouse octopus cells. The name for these neurons derive from their morphology: Octopus cells have large, irregularly shaped cell bodies with three to five thick primary dendrites emerging from only one side of the cell body.
Octopus cells are neurons that appear to be specialized to detect synchronization in the activation of groups of auditory nerve fibers (Ferragamo and Oertel, 2002). Octopus cells form a pathway to the superior paraolivary nucleus and to the ventral nucleus of the lateral lemniscus, which is present in all mammals and is especially prominent in humans (Oertel, 1999). These cells sense the presence of acoustic transients, periodicity, and direction of frequency sweeps in their temporal firing patterns (Godfrey et al, 1975; Oertel et al, 2000; Rhode, 1994, 1998; Rhode and Smith, 1986; Rhode et al, 1983; Smith et al, 1993) and thus are critical for the recognition of natural sounds including speech (Mandava et al, 1995).
For other types of neurons in the cochlear nucleus see also: tuberculoventral cells, bushy cells, cochlear nucleus stellate cells.
For related information of interest see also: Cell types.
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ENTRY LAST MODIFIED: September 2010
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