Life and Medical Sciences
Cell & Developmental Biology
Wiley InterScience Backfile Collection 1832-2000
The primate cochlear nuclear complex exhibits several characteristic morphological differences in the various primate families from Lorisidae through Hominidae. The most striking differences occur in the organization of the dorsal cochlear nucleus in which the laminar pattern becomes progressively obscured. Granule cells form an external granular layer as well as being intermixed within the molecular and pyramidal layers in slow lorises and squirrel and rhesus monkeys. Whereas a prominent external granular layer remains in chimpanzees, granule cells are scant in other portions of the nucleus. Human adults lack an external granular layer. A small number of granule cells occur but with inconstant distribution. Primates lack the linear array of pyramidal cells oriented perpendicularly to the epithelial surface as seen in cats.The granule cell layer exhibits similar regression in development of the human cochlear complex. The external granular layer is prominent in the fetus but rapidly decreases in size after birth. It achieves its adult form prior to 18 months. The data suggest that neuronal attrition, or programmed cell death, may be the major mechanism accounting for the alterations that occur in the human granule cell layer.Other differences in cytoarchitecture, within the great apes and humans, include decreases in the small and giant cell populations of the cochlear complex. These changes, in consort with the organizational changes and reduction of granule cells as noted above, suggest a trend towards reduced intranuclear integration at the level of the cochlear nucleus coupled with encephalization of the auditory system.
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