Photo of Douglas L. Oliver, Ph.D.

Douglas L. Oliver, Ph.D.

Professor of Neuroscience
Director, UConn Neuroscience in Salamanca Spain Study Abroad
Academic Office Location:
UConn Health
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030-3401
Phone: 860-679-2241
Fax: 860-679-8766
Website(s): Oliver Lab
Neuroscience Graduate Program
Neuroscience in Salamanca Spain

The general goal of our lab is to understand how information about sound is processed by the brain. The inferior colliculus (IC) is at the center of the auditory pathway and integrates all information about sound since it must pass through the IC to travel to the cerebral cortex. We are part of an international effort to unlock the secrets of this part of the brain.

Neurobiology of auditory system
Structure and function of CNS sensory neurons.
Microcircuitry and network organization.
Ionic currents and channel expression and their role in information processing.
Neurobiology of hearing and deafness.

Ph.D.Duke UniversityNeuroscience/Psychology
B.A.Emory UniversityPsychology with High Honors

Post-Graduate Training
FellowshipDuke UniversityNIMH Trainee, Research Training Program in the Sciences Related to the Nervous System
FellowshipDuke UniversityNIMH Predoctoral Fellow
FellowshipHarvard Medical SchoolNIH Research Fellow
FellowshipUniversity of Connecticut Health CenterNIH Research Fellow

Name of Award/HonorAwarding Organization
MemberConnecticut Academy of Science and Engineering
Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of ScienceAAAS
Visiting Professor, MRC Toxicology UnitUniversity of Leicester
Visiting ProfessorUniversity of Salamanca, Spain
Visiting ProfessorUniversity of Salamanca, Spain
Visiting ProfessorUniversity of Salamanca, Spain
Medical School Neuroscience; Systems Neuroscience; Brain Microcircuitry; Neurobiology of Hearing
Name & DescriptionCategoryRoleTypeScopeStart YearEnd Year
eLIFEProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerInternational2014
Journal of Histology and HistopathologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational20132014
NIDCD, Communication Disorders Review Committee - CDRCStudy SectionReviewerExternalNational20132013
NIH CSR ZRG1-IFCN-B-02M Sensorimotor Integration Study SectionStudy SectionReviewerExternalNational20132014
PhD Program Admissions CommitteeEducation CommitteeMemberUConn Health CenterUniversity20132016
Dean's CouncilMedical School CouncilMemberUConn Health CenterUniversity2012
Frontiers in Neural CircuitsProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational20122013
NIDCD, Special Emphasis Panel/Scientific Review Group 2013/01 ZDC1 SRB-R (38), October 26, 2012Study SectionReviewerExternalNational20122012
Public Issues CouncilMedcial School CouncilChairUConn Health CenterUniversity20122015
Scientific ReportsProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational20122013
Journal of NeurotransmissionProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational20112013
Journal of PhysiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational20112013
Special Emphasis Panel/Scientific Review Group 2012/01 ZRG1 MDCN-E (96) S (R15 AREA grants)Study SectionGrant ReviewerExternalNational20112013
Association for Research in Otolaryngology, Program CommitteeProgram CommitteeMemberExternalInternational20102013
NIDCD Small Grant (R03) review panelStudy SectionGrant ReviewerExternalNational20102010
Frontiers in Neuroanatomy, Special Edition EditorAssociate EditorExternalNational20092010
Neuroscience PhD Program Executive CommitteeEducation CommitteeCurriculum Committee ChairUConn Health CenterUniversity20092014
Public Issues CouncilMedical School CouncilMemberUConn Health CenterUniversity20092011
Committee for Undergraduate Medical Education (CUME)Education CommitteeMemberUConn Health CenterUniversity20082012
IT Research Advisory CommitteeAdvisory CommitteeMemberUConn Health CenterUniversity20082014
Merit and Compensation Appeals Committee, Medical SchoolAdvisory CommitteeMemberUConn Health CenterUniversity20082014
NIDCD, Special Emphasis Panel /Scientific Review Group ZDC1 SRB-YStudy SectionGrant ReviewerExternalNational20072007
Hearing ResearchProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational20052014
Admissions Committee, Medical School Standing CommitteeMemberUConn Health CenterUniversity20042012
Admissions Interviewer, Medical School, MD and MD/PhDInterviewerUConn Health CenterUniversity20042014
Journal of the Association for Research in OtolaryngologyProfessional/Scientific JournalAssociate EditorExternalNational20032006
Journal of the Association for Research in OtolaryngologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational20032013
NIH, IFCN-6 Study SectionStudy SectionGrant ReviewerExternalNational20022002
NIH, NCRR, P41 Special Study SectionStudy SectionGrant ReviewerExternalNational1999
European J. NeuroscienceProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational19982012
NIH, IFCN-6 Study SectionStudy SectionGrant ReviewerExternalNational1998
NIH, NCRR, P41 Special Study SectionStudy SectionGrant ReviewerExternalNational1998
NIMH, Special Section, Innovative Approaches for Microscopic Tract-TracingStudy SectionGrant ReviewerExternalNational1997
Journal of NeuroscienceProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational19962013
Central Nervous System Subject Committee (i.e. Course), 2nd Year Medical/Dental School. ChairUConn Health CenterUniversity19911996
NeuroscienceProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational19912012
Neuroscience Computer NetworkOrganizerUConn Health CenterUniversity1988
Journal of Comparative NeurologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational19862013
Journal of NeurophysiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalInternational19842014
Current work in the lab is focused on:

(1) Studies of the neurons, brain microcircuits, and synaptic organization of the auditory midbrain.
(2) Studies mechanisms that control the postsynaptic neurons in the auditory midbrain.
(3) In vivo whole cell recording of synaptic responses to sound stimuli.

Our lab is known for studies that combine morphology, electrophysiology, and sometimes molecular biology. Neurons are studied in vivo so that we can use sound to identify their function. Experimental methods include auditory physiology with extracellular recording as a routine part of anatomical experiments, cell attached recording, whole-cell recording, and optogenetics in vivo to study synaptic function and plasticity. Neurons are also studied in vitro in brain slices with whole cell recording and optogenetics so that we can study cell function and networks in isolation. These physiology methods allow us to ask questions about how neurons or microcircuits with different function may also differ morphologically. For morphology, we use histology for tract tracing in CNS tissue, in situ hybridization to identify neurons with different patterns gene expression, and immunohistochemistry to isolate neurons or synaptic structures of different types. Optical methods include brightfield, darkfield, epi-fluorescence, infrared differential interference contrast, and confocal microscopy. We frequently use advanced image processing and 3D reconstruction tools. We also use a number of strains of transgenic mice in which specific neuron types of morphologically or functionally labeled.

Accepting Lab Rotation Students: Fall '14, Spring '15, Summer '15

Note: Summer research requires participation in the UCONN Neuroscience in Salamanca Spain summer program.

Neuroscience projects that could turn into a dissertation:

1. Ask how specific neuron types function to process information about sound. Use optogenetics, cell attached, and whole-cell recording to identify GABAergic and non-GABA neurons in the inferior colliculus in vivo and study their role in sound processing. Recover neurons postmortem to investigate their morphology.

2. Ask whether synapses with a unique location on neurons also have unique functional properties. Investigate the function of specialized axosomatic synapse on large GABA neurons in the inferior colliculus in brain slices with optogenetics and whole cell recording.

3. Ask whether functional zones exist in the inferior colliculus. Map synaptic domains in the inferior colliculus defined by synaptic inputs of different types or from different sources with immunohistochemistry, track tracing, and advance image processing.

4. Ask how neuronal function is influenced by neuron type and the convergence of different types of neurons. Investigate synaptic function of inferior colliculus neurons in inhibitory domains in vitro in the brain slice using optogenetics, pharmacology, and advanced histological and microscopic methods.

5. Ask whether neurons in the inferior colliculus differ in the distribution of synaptic inputs on the dendrites. Map inhibitory synapse on identified neurons in inferior colliculus with high resolution light microscopy, immunohistochemistry, and transgenic mice.

Students who wish to formulate their own novel questions about the synaptic organization of the auditory system are more than welcome.

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • The Inferior Colliculus
    Oliver D.L. Neuronal organization in the inferior colliculus. Chapter 2 2005 Jan;69-114
  • Encyclopedia of the Human Brain
    Waitzman D.M., Oliver D.L. The Midbrain 2002 Jan;43-68
  • Approximate expressions for viscous attenuation in marine sediments: relating Biot's "critical" and "peak" frequencies.
    Turgut, A The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 2000 Aug;108(2):513-8
  • The Mammalian Cochlear Nuclei: Organization and Function
    Oliver D.L., Beckius G.E. Ascending projections from the cochlear nucleus to the inferior colliculus and their interactions with projections from the superior olivary complex 1993 Jan;335-347
  • The Mammalian Auditory Pathway: Neuroanatomy
    Oliver D.L., Huerta M.F. Inferior and superior colliculi 1992 Jan;168-221
  • Neurobiology of Hearing: The Central Auditory System
    Oliver D.L., Shneiderman A. The anatomy of the inferior colliculus: A cellular basis for integration of monaural and binaural information 1991 Jan;195-222
  • Auditory Biochemistry
    Potashner S.J., Morest D.K., Oliver D.L., Jones D.R. Identification of glutamatergic and aspartergic pathways in the auditory system 1985 Jan;141-162

Conference Papers

  • Binaural Spectral Processing in Mouse Inferior Colliculus
    Xi Bie; Douglas L. Oliver 2014 Feb;37309
  • Multiple Combination of Inputs to Inferior Colliculus (IC) Determines Synaptic Domains for Stimulus-Specific Adaptation (SSA) in Rat
    Ayala, Yaneri A.; Udeh, Adanna; Dutta, Kelsey; Bishop, Deborah C.; Malmierca, Manuel S.; Oliver, Douglas L. 2014 Feb;3739
  • Single Unit Recordings in the Cochlear Nucleus of the Anesthetized Rat
    Ayala, Y.A. Oliver, D. Cant, N. Malmierca, M. S. 2013 Feb;36309
  • Binaural Spectral Processing in Mouse Inferior Colliculus. Program No. 366.10/FF12
    Xi Bie, Douglas L. Oliver 2012 Oct;Online
  • Multiple functional areas exist within Te1 auditory cortex in rat. Program#/Poster#: 460.02/U5
  • Tectothalamic inhibitory neurons in the inferior colliculus receive converged axosomatic excitatory inputs from multiple sources. Program#/Poster# 367.05/GG12
    T. Ito, D. L. Oliver 2012 Oct;
  • Time course variability of sound evoked synaptic inputs in inferior colliculus (IC) of mouse. Program#/Poster#: 368.01/HH14
    M. ONO, D. OLIVER 2012 Oct;
  • Synaptic Inputs Coding of Interaural Level Differences in Inferior Colliculus (IC) of Mouse.
    Ono M, Oliver DL 2012 Feb;35270
  • Distribution of inhibitory axosomatic synapses in the Inferior Colliculus.
    Chikar J, Miller M, Oliver D 2011 Jan;
  • Gene expression differences for glutamatergic pathways to primary and ventral auditory cortical field. Program No. 479.10/KK30.
    Storace DA, Chikar JA, Higgins NC, Oliver DL, Read HL 2011 Jan; 2011 Neuroscience Meeting Planner.
  • Glutamatergic pathway distinctions between primary and ventral auditory cortical fields.
    Storace D, Chikar J, Oliver D, Read H 2011 Jan;
  • Synaptic inputs to inferior colliculus (IC) neurons underlying coding of interaural level differences in mouse. Program No. 478.21/KK18.
    Ono M, Oliver DL 2011 Jan;
  • A distinct pattern of glycinergic synapses in the rat auditory midbrain. Program No. 774.8/HH2.
    Chikar J, Oliver DL 2010 Jan;2010 Neuroscience Meeting Planner.
  • GABAergic tectothalamic neurons in inferior colliculus receive a special glutamate synapse
    Ito T., Ahn H.S., Bishop D., Oliver D. 2009 Jan;32
  • Distribution of VGLUT1- and VGLUT2-expressing neurons in the rodent auditory brainstem. Program No. 664.10.2008
    Ito T., Oliver D.L. 2008 Jan;
  • Early sound exposure alters frequency coding in the inferior colliculus of the rat
    Izquierdo M.A., Malmierca M.S., Oliver D.L. 2007 Jan;
  • Vesicular glutamate transporters 1 and 2 immunolabel distinct subsets of terminals in the rat inferior colliculus
    Tong L., Oliver D.L., Holt A.G., Ross M., Shore S., Cui Y., et al. 2007 Jan;
  • Organization of Excitatory and Inhibitory Frequency Response Areas in the Rat Inferior Colliculus
    Cristaudo S., Izquierdo M.A., Covey E., Malmierca M.S. 2006 Jan;
  • Spatially divergent patterns of input from lower auditory nuclei contribute to functional specificity in the inferior colliculus (IC)
    Loftus W.C., Bishop D.C., Oliver D.L. 2006 Jan;
  • Stepwise Organization of Tonotopy in the Inferior Colliculus of the Rat: Electrophysiological Evidence
    Malmierca M.S., Izquierdo M.A., Cristaudo S., P?rez-Gonzÿlez D., Hernÿndez O., Covey E., et al. 2006 Jan;
  • The generation of rebound excitation in the inferior colliculus. In
    Sivaramakrishnan S., Oliver D.L. 2006 Jan;
  • A new method to represent and compute the 3-dimensional anatomy of fibrodendritic layers in the inferior colliculus
    Ahghari Soheil, Oliver Douglas L. Bioengineering, Proceedings of the Northeast Conference 1991 Jan;115-116
  • GABA immunocytochemistry and speculation on the inhibitory circuits in the inferior colliculus of the cat
    Oliver D.L., Beckius G. 1989 Jan;12218
  • Morphological substrates for binaural interactions in the midbrain: Afferents to the dorsal nucleus of the lateral lemniscus.
    Oliver D.L., Shneiderman A., Henkel C. 1987 Jan;13547
  • Structural components of binaural information processing in the auditory midbrain. Physiology and anatomy of HRP-injected cells in the cat and gerbil.
    Oliver D.L., Kuwada S., Batra R., Stanford T.R., Henkel C. 1986 Jan;121271



  • A Semi-Automated Image Analysis Algorithm Determines Synaptic Bouton Size and Distribution in Banded Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus (DCN) Projections to Inferior Colliculus Central Nucleus (ICc)
    Saint Marie R.L., Oliver D.L. 2004 Jan;27
  • Determination of Response Patterns in the Inferior Colliculus by Synaptic Inputs and Intrinsic Membrane Properties
    Oliver D.L., Sivaramakrishnan S. 2004 Jan;27
  • Specialized Synaptic Function in the Mammalian Inferior Colliculus
    Oliver D.L. 2004 Jan;27
  • The effect of binaural stimulation on frequency resolution in the rat inferior colliculus (IC)
    Yang Y., Saint Marie R.L., Oliver D.L. 2004 Jan;27
  • Two Types of Laminar Afferents in the Central Nucleus of the Inferior Colliculus (ICc) from the Dorsal Cochlear Nucleus (DCN) in the Cat and Rat
    Malmierca M.S., Saint Marie R.L., Oliver D.L., Merchÿn M.A. 2004 Jan;27
  • Frequency resolution in the auditory brainstem determined by sound-induced expression of Fos protein
    Yang Y., Saint Marie R.L., Oliver D.L. 2003 Jan;33
  • The role of inhibition in the neural coding of sound intensity in the inferior colliculus (IC) of the unanesthetized rabbit
    Sivaramakrishnan S., Sterbing S., Riquelme R., Filipovic B., D'Angelo W.R., Oliver D.L., et al. 2003 Jan;
  • Threshold sensitivities of neuronal populations in cochlear nucleus (CN) determined by sound-induced Fos expression: Evidence for acoustic stimulation of granule cells
    Yang Y., Saint Marie R.L., Oliver D.L. 2003 Jan;26
  • GABAA - mediated inhibition is necessary for sustained activity in the inferior colliculus of the rat
    Sivaramakrishnan S., Oliver D.L. 2002 Jan;
  • Axons from anteroventral cochlear nucleus that terminate in medial superior olive of cat: observations related to delay lines.
    Beckius, G E; Batra, R; Oliver, D L The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 1999 Apr;19(8):3146-61
  • Different proportions of GABA and glycine content distinguish the nuclei of the lateral lemniscus in the rat. A double-label immunofluorescence study
    Oliver D.L., Bishop D.C. 1998 Jan;2193
  • Ionic bases of response patterns of rat inferior colliculus neurons
    Sivaramakrishnan S., Oliver D.L. 1998 Jan;241636
  • Differential entraining capabilities of neurons in the rat inferior colliculus
    Peruzzi D., Oliver D.L. 1997 Jan;20190
  • Convergence of inputs from dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) and lateral superior olive (LSO) in the inferior colliculus (IC)
    Oliver D.L., Beckius G.E., Bishop D.C., Kuwada S. 1994 Jan;1730
  • Intracellular responses to current injections in slices of rat inferior colliclus (IC)
    Peruzzi D., Oliver D.L. 1994 Jan;20321
  • Synaptic connections made by the superior olivary complex (SOC) in the inferior colliculus (IC)
    Beckius G.E., Oliver D.L. 1992 Jan;181039
  • Dorsal cochlear nucleus projections to the inferior colliculus in the cat: a light and electron microscopic study.
    Oliver, D L The Journal of comparative neurology 1984 Apr;224(2):155-72
Title or AbstractTypeSponsor/EventDate/YearLocation
New concepts for neural circuits in the auditory midbrainLectureDepartment of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences2014UConn, Storrs CT
Optogenetic Exploration of the Auditory Brain Plenary LectureUCHC Department of Neuroscience Retreat2013Mark Twain House, Hartford CT
Brain Microcircuits and Function in the Auditory SystemTalkUCONN BME Seminar2013UCONN Storrs, CT
Synaptic Organization and Parallel Pathways in the Auditory MidbrainTalkDepartment of Molecular and Integrative Physiology and Beckman Institute2012University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Synaptic Organization in the Inferior ColliculusTalkDepts. of Otology and Laryngology and Neurobiology2012Harvard Medical School, Boston MA
New concepts for neural circuits in the inferior colliculus TalkDepartment of Anatomy & Neurobiology2011Northeast Ohio Medical University
New Concepts for Neural Circuits in the Inferior ColliculusTalkCenter for Hearing and Balance2011Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Neuroscience Symposium seriesTalkUniversity of Connecticut Health Center2011University of Connecticut Health Center
New concepts for neural circuits in the Inferior ColliculusTalkDepartment of Biomedical Engineering2011Boston University
New concepts for neural circuits in the Inferior ColliculusTalkAcademy of Sciences of the Czech Republic2011Prague, Czech Republic
New concepts for neural circuits in the Inferior ColliculusTalkNinth International Workshop on Auditory Processing2011Cody, Wyoming
Neuroscience Symposium seriesTalkUniversity of Connecticut Health Center2009University of Connecticut Health Center
Symposium to Honor Kent MorestTalkGeorge Washington School of Medicine2009Washington, DC.
NEUROSCIENCE – An important field for biomedical engineeringTalkBiomedical Engineering Society2009University of Connecticut
Presentation to Premedical Society about UCONN Neuroscience in Salamanca SpainTalkPremedical Society2009University of Connecticut
From Cochlea to Cortex: Recent Advances in Auditory NeuroscienceTalkMedical Faculty and the Centre for Molecular Biology and Neuroscience (CMBN)2008University of Oslo, Oslo Norway
Neuroscience Symposium seriesTalkUniversity of Connecticut Health Center2008University of Connecticut Health Center
The Auditory Brain - a Tribute to Dexter IrvineTalkA Satellite Meeting to IBRO2007Melbourne Australia
Neuroscience Symposium seriesTalkNeuroscience Symposium series2005University of Connecticut Health Center
Neuroscience Symposium seriesTalk Neuroscience Symposium series2004University of Connecticut Health Center
The Third Symposium on Molecular Mechanisms in Central Auditory Function, Plasticity and DisordersTalkThe Third Symposium on Molecular Mechanisms in Central Auditory Function, Plasticity and Disorders2004Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Mathematical Biosciences Institute workshop on "The Auditory System." TalkThe Ohio State University2003The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio.
International Symposium on the Central Auditory System: The Inferior ColliculusTalkUniversity of Salamanca, Spain2001University of Salamanca, Spain
Neuroscience Symposium seriesTalkUniversity of Connecticut Health Center2001University of Connecticut Health Center
Anatomical Methods for Research in OtolaryngologyTalkAssociation for Research in Otolaryngology1999Midwinter Meeting of the Assoc.Res. Otolaryngology
The 2nd Symposium on Molecular Mechanisms in Central Auditory Function and PlasticityTalkThe 2nd Symposium on Molecular Mechanisms in Central Auditory Function and Plasticity1999Park City, Utah
Acoustical Signal Processing in the Central Auditory System TalkInternational Symposium, Acoustical Signal Processing in the Central Auditory System1996Prague, Czech Republic
The Mammalian Cochlear Nuclei: Organization and FunctionTalkNATO Advanced Research Workshop1991Salamanca, Spain
Brown University, Neuroscience SectionTalkBrown University, Neuroscience Section1978Brown University