Right cochleae were aspirated from 6‐day‐old mice to determine the influence of cochlear integrity on the dendritic development of neurons within cochlear nucleus (CN). At 45 days of age, cochlear destruction was confirmed histologically and the brains were stained by the Golgi‐Cox method to permit dendritic morphometry in CN ipsilateral (deafferented) and contralateral (normal) to the neonatally lesioned cochleae. The dendritic field cross‐sectional area of ventral CN bushy cells was reduced on the deafferented side, as was the total dendritic length of stellate cells throughout ventral and dorsal CN. The neonatal deafferentation had no statistically significant effect on the total dendritic length of those dorsal CN fusiform cells that developed. These dendritic changes are interpreted as lack of development due to the loss of auditory nerve afferents during a critical period of development and indicate that any congenital pathology that compromises the cochlear sensorineural structures may lead to central auditory abnormalities as well.
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