Refinement of dendritic arbors along the tonotopic axis of the gerbil lateral superior olive

Dan H. Sanes, John Song, James Tyson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We have investigated the development of dendritic arbors in a central auditory nucleus in the Mongolian gerbil, the lateral superior olive (LSO). The morphology of these arbors has been shown to vary with tonotopic position in adults, with high frequency neurons having a more restricted field. In the present study, qualitative observations were made on horseradish peroxidase-filled neurons from animals 1-11 days postnatal, and quantitative results were obtained from Golgi-impregnated material from animals 10 days postnatal and older. The tonotopic position of each cell was computed as a percent of the total distance along the LSO. The dendritic arbor high frequency neurons became spatially constrained along the frequency axis during the 3rd postnatal week, while those in the low frequency region retained a broader arborization into adulthood. This refinement was correlated with a decrease in total dendritic length and the number of branch points per neuron, particularly in the high frequency projection region. The distribution of octave bandwidths to which single LSO neurons responded in 13-16 day animals showed a similar course of maturation across the tonotopic axis: high frequency neurons responded to a larger number of octaves, and with greater variability, than those in adults. These data suggest that a specific alteration in dendrite morphology, which occurs after the onset of response to airborne sound, may contribute to adult frequency selectivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-55
Number of pages9
JournalDevelopmental Brain Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 22 1992


  • Auditory pathway
  • Dendrite
  • Development
  • Frequency tuning
  • Lateral superior olive
  • Morphometry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology


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