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The Cranial Nerves 

The Cranial Nerves
Chapter:
The Cranial Nerves
Author(s):

Per Brodal

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780190228958.003.0027
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date: 05 March 2021

Chapter 27 describes the 12 cranial nerves and their functions. The cranial nerves connect the brain stem with structures in the head, the neck, and the thoracic and abdominal cavities. They contain four main fiber types: somatic efferent fibers supply skeletal muscles; visceral efferent fibers supply smooth muscles and glands; somatic afferent fibers conduct sensory signals from the skin and mucous membranes of the face, from muscles and joints, and from the vestibular apparatus and the cochlea; and visceral afferent fibers bring sensory signals from the visceral organs. In general, motor cranial nuclei lie medially in the brain stem while sensory nuclei lie laterally. The cranial nerve nuclei and the cranial nerves are links in various brain stem reflexes. The somatic motor nuclei receive innervation from the motor cortex while somatic sensory nuclei convey signals to the somatosensory cortex by joining the spinothalamic tract and the medial lemniscus.

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