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Head and Neck Anatomy: Part III – Cranial Nerves

Course Number: 598


The best way to summarize the cranial nerves is with a table showing the major attributes of each.

ce598 - PDF - Cranial Nerve Summary Table
Cranial NerveTypes of FibersPassages TraversedMajor Branches
I - Olfactoryspecial sensory - smellolfactory foraminanone
II - Opticspecial sensory - visionoptic canalnone
III - Oculomotorsomatic motor - eye muscles

visceral motor - iris and ciliary muscles
superior orbital fissurenone
IV - Trochlearsomatic motor - superior oblique musclesuperior orbital fissurenone
V - Trigeminal
      V1 - Ophthalmic
general sensory - eyes, upper portion of face, nose and philtrum of the lipsuperior orbital fissurenone
V - Trigeminal
      V2 - Maxillary
general sensory - midface including tissues of oral cavity associated with the maxillaforamen rotundum

inferior orbital fissure

infraorbital foramen (as infraorbital nerve)
greater palatal

lesser palatal


posterior superior alveolar


middle superior alveolar

anterior superior alveolar
V - Trigeminal
      V3 - Mandibular
general sensory - lower face following the mandible including oral structures in the lower jaw and the tongue

Somatic motor - muscles of mastication, tensor veli palatini, anterior belly of the digastric. tensor tympani and the mylohyoid
foramen ovale

mandibular foramen

mandibular canal (as inferior alveolar)

mental foramen (as mental - a branch of the inferior alveolar)
muscular branches


inferior alveolar


VI - Abducenssomatic motor - lateral rectus musclesuperior orbital fissurenone
VII - Facialsomatic motor - muscles of facial expression, stylohyoid, posterior belly of the digastric and the stapedius.

visceral motor - lacrimal, submandibular, sublingual and minor salivary glands

general sensory - portion of pharynx and small area around ear

special sensory - taste to the anterior 2/3 of the tongue
internal acoustic meatus

stylomastoid foramen

petrotympanic fissure (as chorda tympani)

hiatus of the greater petrosal nerve (as greater petrosal)

foramen lacerum (as greater petrosal)
greater petrosal

chorda tympani

muscular branches (temporal, zygomatic, buccal, marginal mandibular, cervical)
VIII - Vestibulocochlear, Statoacoustic, Acousticspecial sensory – hearing and equilibrium internal acoustic meatus vestibular

IX - Glossopharyngealsomatic motor - stylopharyngeus muscle

visceral motor - parotid salivary gland

general sensory - posterior 1/3rd of tongue, portions of both the pharynx and larynx and to some skin around the ear

special sensory - taste to the posterior 1/3 of the tongue
jugular foramentympanic
X- Vagussomatic motor - all palatal muscles except the tensor veli palatini, all muscles of the pharynx except the stylopharygeus, laryngeal muscles

visceral motor - thoracic and abdominal viscera except the distal 1/3rd of the colon

general sensory - a small area around ear

special sensory - taste from the taste buds of the pharynx
jugular foramensuperior laryngeal


recurrent laryngeal
XI - Spinal Accessorysomatic motor - trapezius and sternocleidomastoid musclesjugular foramennone
XII - Hypoglossalsomatic motor - intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the tongue except the palatoglossus hypoglossal canalnone