third cranial nerve

Cranial nerve nucleus

A cranial nerve nucleus is a collection of neurons (gray matter) in the brain stem that is associated with one or more cranial nerves. Axons carrying information to and from the cranial nerves form a synapse first at these nuclei. Lesions occurring at these nuclei can lead to effects resembling those seen by the severing of nerve(s) they are associated with. All the nuclei excepting that of the IV nerve supply nerves of the same side of the body.

Arrangement of the nuclei

Just as grey matter in the ventral (closer to front of a human) spinal cord tends to be efferent (motor) fibers, and the dorsal horn tends to contain sensory neurons, nuclei in the brainstem are arranged in an analogous way.

Examples of nuclei

There are several cranial nerve nuclei (roman numeral refers to the cranial nerve number):

hindbrain (rhombencephalon)

medulla oblongata


midbrain (mesencephalon)


Additional images

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