Superior olivary nucleus

The superior olivary nuclei (or complex, SOC) are a group of nuclei within the pons contributing to the ascending and descending auditory pathways.

Gross anatomy

The superior olivary nuclei are located in the pons, while the inferior olivary nuclei are located in the medulla. It is generally situated caudally near the facial nucleus, in the tegmentum of the caudal pons. At the level of the pontomedullary junction, it is lateral in the reticular formation.

Function

The superior olivary complex contains two main nuclei: the medial superior olive (MSO) and the lateral superior olive (LSO).

The MSO has a larger number of neurons than the LSO, and is thought to play a more prominent role in human hearing. 

The superior olivary nuclei contain binaural neurons that respond to input from the inner ears. The trapezoid bodies amplify the left-right difference of sounds from the cochlear nuclei before the signals reach the superior olivary complex. The superior olivary nuclei may localize sound on the horizontal plane based on binaural differences in timing and intensity of sound. However, detailed functional aspects of these groups are still under investigation.

Anatomy: Brain
Share article

Article information

rID: 58744
Section: Anatomy
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • superior olivary nuclei
  • superior olivary complex
  • SOC

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Updating… Please wait.

 Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

 Thank you for updating your details.