Cranial nerve

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Cranial nerve

Cranial nerves (pronunciation: /ˈkreɪniəl nɜːrvz/) are a set of twelve paired nerves that emerge directly from the brain. The first two (olfactory and optic) come from the cerebrum, while the remaining ten emerge from the brainstem. They are part of the peripheral nervous system, and they provide motor and sensory functions to structures within the head and neck.


The term "cranial nerve" is derived from the Latin words "cranialis" meaning "of the skull" and "nervus" meaning "nerve".

Related terms

  • Brainstem: The part of the brain continuous with the spinal cord and comprising the medulla oblongata, pons, midbrain, and parts of the hypothalamus.
  • Peripheral nervous system: The part of the nervous system that consists of the nerves and ganglia outside of the brain and spinal cord.
  • Olfactory nerve: The first cranial nerve that conveys special sensory information related to smell.
  • Optic nerve: The second cranial nerve that conveys visual information from the retina to the brain.

Cranial nerves

The twelve cranial nerves are:

  1. Olfactory nerve (I)
  2. Optic nerve (II)
  3. Oculomotor nerve (III)
  4. Trochlear nerve (IV)
  5. Trigeminal nerve (V)
  6. Abducens nerve (VI)
  7. Facial nerve (VII)
  8. Vestibulocochlear nerve (VIII)
  9. Glossopharyngeal nerve (IX)
  10. Vagus nerve (X)
  11. Accessory nerve (XI)
  12. Hypoglossal nerve (XII)

Each nerve has a specific function and structure. For example, the Olfactory nerve is responsible for the sense of smell, while the Optic nerve is involved in vision.

See also

External links


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