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Inferior colliculus

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Brain: Inferior colliculus
Transverse section of mid-brain at level of inferior colliculi.
Deep dissection of brain-stem. Lateral view. ("Inferior colliculus" is yellow, and is labeled at left.
Latin colliculus inferior
Gray's subject #188 806
Part of
BrainInfo/UW hier-467
MeSH A08.

The inferior colliculi (Latin, lower hill) together with the superior colliculi form the eminences of the corpora quadrigemina, and also part of the tectal region of the midbrain. The inferior colliculus lies caudal to its counterpart - the superior colliculus - above the trochlear nerve, and at the base of the projection of the medial geniculate nucleus (MGN) and the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN).

The inferior colliculus is the principal midbrain nucleus of the auditory pathway and receives input from several more peripheral brainstem nuclei in the auditory pathway, as well as inputs from the auditory cortex. The inferior colliculus has many subnuclei.

Relationship to auditory system

The inferior colliculi of the midbrain, are located just below the visual processing centers known as the superior colliculi. The inferior colliculus is the first place where vertically orienting data from the fusiform cells in the dorsal cochlear nucleus can finally synapse with horizontally orienting data. This homecoming of the aural dimensions puts these dual mesencephalic bumps in the position to fully integrate all the sound location data.

The inferior colliculus has a relatively high metabolism in the brain. The Conrad Simon memorial institute research measured the blood flow of the IC and put a number at 1.80 cc/gm/min in the cat brain. For reference, the runner up in the included measurements was the somatosensory cortex at 1.53. This indicates that the inferior colliculus is metabolically more active than many other parts of the brain. The hippocampus, normally considered to use up a disproportionate amount of energy, was not measured or compared (6).

Skottun et al. ran a study of the neurons in the inferior colliculus, comparing the single unit information to the behavioral response in guinea pigs. They found that the interaural time delay discrimination in the neurons was comparable to the behavioral ability to detect the source of a sound. If these findings were not consistent, then the localization of sound must work through a different mechanism (7).

The inferior colliculus receives input from both the ipsilateral and contralateral cochlear nucleus and respectively the corresponding ears. Of course, there is some lateralization, the dorsal projections (containing vertical data) only project to the contralateral inferior colliculus. This inferior colliculus contralateral to the ear it is receiving the most information from, then projects to its ipsilateral medial geniculate nucleus.

See also


6) Conrad Simon Memorial Research Initiative homepage <>

7) Skottun, Bernt C. et al. The ability of inferior colliculus neurons to signal differences in interaural delay. PNAS November 20, 2001 vol. 98 . no. 24 . pp 14050-14054

External links

Mesencephalon (midbrain)

cerebral peduncle: midbrain tegmentum (periaqueductal gray, ventral tegmentum, nucleus raphe dorsalis), pretectum, substantia nigra, red nucleus, pedunculopontine nucleus, medial longitudinal fasciculus, medial lemniscus, rubrospinal tract, lateral lemniscus

tectum: corpora quadrigemina, inferior colliculi, superior colliculi

cerebral aqueduct: oculomotor nucleus, trochlear nucleus, Edinger-Westphal nucleus


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