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By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Describe the functional grouping of cranial nerves
  • Match the regions of the forebrain and brain stem that are connected to each cranial nerve
  • Suggest diagnoses that would explain certain losses of function in the cranial nerves
  • Relate cranial nerve deficits to damage of adjacent, unrelated structures

The twelve cranial nerves are typically covered in introductory anatomy courses, and memorizing their names is facilitated by numerous mnemonics developed by students over the years of this practice. But knowing the names of the nerves in order often leaves much to be desired in understanding what the nerves do. The nerves can be categorized by functions, and subtests of the cranial nerve exam can clarify these functional groupings.

Three of the nerves are strictly responsible for special senses whereas four others contain fibers for special and general senses. Three nerves are connected to the extraocular muscles resulting in the control of gaze. Four nerves connect to muscles of the face, oral cavity, and pharynx, controlling facial expressions, mastication, swallowing, and speech. Four nerves make up the cranial component of the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for pupillary constriction, salivation, and the regulation of the organs of the thoracic and upper abdominal cavities. Finally, one nerve controls the muscles of the neck, assisting with spinal control of the movement of the head and neck.

The cranial nerve exam allows directed tests of forebrain and brain stem structures. The twelve cranial nerves serve the head and neck. The vagus nerve (cranial nerve X) has autonomic functions in the thoracic and superior abdominal cavities. The special senses are served through the cranial nerves, as well as the general senses of the head and neck. The movement of the eyes, face, tongue, throat, and neck are all under the control of cranial nerves. Preganglionic parasympathetic nerve fibers that control pupillary size, salivary glands, and the thoracic and upper abdominal viscera are found in four of the nerves. Tests of these functions can provide insight into damage to specific regions of the brain stem and may uncover deficits in adjacent regions.

Sensory nerves

The olfactory, optic, and vestibulocochlear nerves (cranial nerves I, II, and VIII) are dedicated to four of the special senses: smell, vision, equilibrium, and hearing, respectively. Taste sensation is relayed to the brain stem through fibers of the facial and glossopharyngeal nerves. The trigeminal nerve is a mixed nerve that carries the general somatic senses from the head, similar to those coming through spinal nerves from the rest of the body.

Testing smell is straightforward, as common smells are presented to one nostril at a time. The patient should be able to recognize the smell of coffee or mint, indicating the proper functioning of the olfactory system. Loss of the sense of smell is called anosmia and can be lost following blunt trauma to the head or through aging. The short axons of the first cranial nerve regenerate on a regular basis. The neurons in the olfactory epithelium have a limited life span, and new cells grow to replace the ones that die off. The axons from these neurons grow back into the CNS by following the existing axons—representing one of the few examples of such growth in the mature nervous system. If all of the fibers are sheared when the brain moves within the cranium, such as in a motor vehicle accident, then no axons can find their way back to the olfactory bulb to re-establish connections. If the nerve is not completely severed, the anosmia may be temporary as new neurons can eventually reconnect.

Questions & Answers

what is anotomy and waht is phesiology
chanbasha Reply
anatomy is classified the origin physiology is functional of origin
oHo
classified origin functional of origin
Sheryl
Differentiate between pharmacist and apothecary
adanoor Reply
What is metatarsal
Ndotenyin Reply
bone of the foot is known as metatarsal
Patrick
yes 👆 right
Sneha
metatarsal (foot bone).....👍
Rishi
what is the meaning for cadavers
Malar
yes metatarsal are foot bone
Rakiya
the term "mental" pertain to which of the following a. chin b.navel c. ear d. nose e. skull
cris Reply
a
Lina
chin
Sneha
hi
Mohamed
skull
Monica
skull
Peter
chin
Kelly
skull
Juma
skull
Gul
skull
Laraib
skull
anwaar
skull
Nirmala
skull
Tessmol
chin
Derrick
mental chin nerve
Katarzyna
e. skull
Jennifer
skull
prince
e. skull
Natasha
It's not skull but chin
mwango
the skull
Rakiya
what are the three many components of the lymphatic system?
Milica Reply
those are...... organ, tissue and blood capillary or vessals
Juma
anatomical terms and use them appropriatly in the language of anatomy of anterior body landmarks
Teody Reply
what is human anatomy?
rascal Reply
lts stady structured human body's
Sa
what is the study of how the body functions?
Bright
What is human anatomy
Sherifat
human antomy is the body of structure
Malar
is the study of human body
Rakiya
what is abdomipelvic cavity?
david Reply
Includes all organs within the abdomen(stomach,intestines) and those from the pelvic region hence the name... abdomipelvic
Maureen
where can we find the short bones
Chidi Reply
Carpal bones are examples of short bones
Dara
what is blood supply
Chidi
on upper limb and lower limb
Juma
carpal bones
Priya
during pregnancy which would more increase size the mothers abdominal or pelvic cavity?
Nurmalyn Reply
pelvic cavity I think
Priya
What is anatomical position
Nwoye
pelvic
Maureen
@ Nwoye... when standing erect, feet parallel, arms hanging at the sides with palms facing forward
Maureen
The pelvic cavity
Rakiya
pelvic
Malar
define the main directional terms of the body
cris Reply
during physical exercise respiratory rate increace two student are discussing the mechanisms involved. student A claim they are positive feedback and student B claim negative feedback do you agree with student A or B and why
cris
what is the physiology of circulation
Chidi
please I mean the physiology of criculation
Chidi
blood flow refers to the movement of blood through the vessels from arteries to the capillaries and then to the veins
Laraib
the heart&the lungs
Rakiya
during pregnancy, which would more size the mother's abdominal or pelvic cavity? explain
cris Reply
list and define the three plane of devision of the body
cris
complete the following statements using correct directional terms for human being. 1. the navel is________to the nose 2. the heart is______to the breastbone(sternum) 3 the ankle is______to the knee 4 the ear is______to the eyes.
cris
1. superior 2. posterior 3. superior 4. lateral
Mnm
anterior fuerior
Chidi
inferior medial posterior lateral we
Susan
name the system of the body and its function
cris Reply
11 system are human body 1.integumentary system 2. skeletal system 3. muscular system 4. nervous system 5. endocrine system 6. cardiovascular system 7. lymphatic system 8. respiratory system 9. digestive system 10. urinary system 11. reproductive system male and female.
Vineeta
during pregnancy, which would more size the mother's abdominal or pelvic cavity? explain
cris
how the body maintain hormeostasis in terms of bloodglucose level
cris Reply
It releases hormones from the pancreas insulin and glucagon
TONY
why human blood pressure high
amin Reply
fear, anxiety, sickness
Inemesit
why in mothers womb the foetus head is in anus direction?
Kick
As it seems the position downside n if we did such position thn soon we got vomiting then how foetus stay in downward position long time?
Kick

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Source:  OpenStax, Anatomy & Physiology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 04, 2016 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11496/1.8
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