The 12 pairs of cranial nerves are traditionally abbreviated by the corresponding Roman numerals. They are numbered according to where their nuclei lie in the brain stem, e.g. Cranial Nerve III (the Oculomotor nerve) leaves the brainstem at a higher position than Cranial nerve XII, whose origin is located more caudally (lower) than the other cranial nerves.
|0|| Cranial nerve zero (CN0 is not traditionally recognized.) ||olfactory trigone, medial olfactory gyrus, and lamina terminalis|| Still controversial |
New research indicates CN0 may play a role in the detection of pheromones
|I||Olfactory nerve||Anterior olfactory nucleus||Transmits the sense of smell; Located in olfactory foramina of ethmoid|
|II||Optic nerve||Lateral geniculate nucleus||Transmits visual information to the brain; Located in optic canal|
|III||Oculomotor nerve||Oculomotor nucleus, Edinger-Westphal nucleus||Innervates levator palpebrae superioris, superior rectus, medial rectus, inferior rectus, and inferior oblique, which collectively perform most eye movements; Located in superior orbital fissure|
|IV||Trochlear nerve||Trochlear nucleus||Innervates the superior oblique muscle, which depresses, pulls laterally, and intorts the eyeball; Located in superior orbital fissure|
|V||Trigeminal nerve||Principal sensory trigeminal nucleus, Spinal trigeminal nucleus, Mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus, Trigeminal motor nucleus||Receives sensation from the face and innervates the muscles of mastication; Located in superior orbital fissure (ophthalmic branch), foramen rotundum (maxillary branch), and foramen ovale (mandibular branch)|
|VI||Abducens nerve||Abducens nucleus||Innervates the lateral rectus, which abducts the eye; Located in superior orbital fissure|
|VII||Facial nerve||Facial nucleus, Solitary nucleus, Superior salivary nucleus||Provides motor innervation to the muscles of facial expression and stapedius, receives the special sense of taste from the anterior 2/3 of the tongue, and provides secretomotor innervation to the salivary glands (except parotid) and the lacrimal gland; Located and runs through internal acoustic canal to facial canal and exits at stylomastoid foramen|
|VIII||Vestibulocochlear nerve (or auditory-vestibular nerve or statoacustic nerve)||Vestibular nuclei, Cochlear nuclei||Senses sound, rotation and gravity (essential for balance & movement; Located in internal acoustic canal|
|IX||Glossopharyngeal nerve||Nucleus ambiguus, Inferior salivary nucleus, Solitary nucleus||Receives taste from the posterior 1/3 of the tongue, provides secretomotor innervation to the parotid gland, and provides motor innervation to the stylopharyngeus (essential for tactile, pain, and thermal sensation). Sensation is relayed to opposite thalamus and some hypothalamic nuclei. Located in jugular foramen|
|X||Vagus nerve||Nucleus ambiguus, Dorsal motor vagal nucleus, Solitary nucleus||Supplies branchiomotor innervation to most laryngeal and pharyngeal muscles; provides parasympathetic fibers to nearly all thoracic and abdominal viscera down to the splenic flexure; and receives the special sense of taste from the epiglottis. A major function: controls muscles for voice and resonance and the soft palate. Symptoms of damage: dysphagia (swallowing problems). Located in jugular foramen|
|XI||Accessory nerve (or cranial accessory nerve or spinal accessory nerve)||Nucleus ambiguus, Spinal accessory nucleus||Controls muscles of the neck and overlaps with functions of the vagus. Examples of symptoms of damage: inability to shrug, weak head movement, velopharyngeal insufficiency; Located in jugular foramen|
|XII||Hypoglossal nerve||Hypoglossal nucleus||Provides motor innervation to the muscles of the tongue and other glossal muscles. Important for swallowing (bolus formation) and speech articulation. Located in hypoglossal canal|
Human cranial nerves are evolutionarily homologous to those found in many other vertebrates. Cranial nerves XI and XII evolved in the common ancestor to amniotes (non-amphibian tetrapods) thus totalling twelve pairs. These characters are synapomorphies for their respective clades. In some primitive cartilagenous fishes, such as the dogfish (Squalus acanthias), there is a terminal nerve numbered zero (as it exits the brain before the first cranial nerve).
For additional memonics, see
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