I pair of cranial nerves the Olfactory nerves (n olfactorius) The olfactory nerves or nerves of smell



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I pair of cranial nerves - the Olfactory nerves (n. olfactorius)

The olfactory nerves or nerves of smell are distributed to the mucous membrane of the olfactory region of the nasal cavity: this region comprises the superior nasal concha, and the corresponding part of the nasal septum. The nerves originate from the central or deep processes of the olfactory cells of the nasal mucous membrane. They form a plexiform net-work in the mucous membrane, and are then collected into about twenty branches, which pierce the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone in two groups, a lateral and a medial group, and end in the glomeruli of the olfactory bulb. Each branch receives tubular sheaths from the dura mater and pia mater, the former being lost in the periosteum of the nose, the latter in the neurolemma of the nerve.

The olfactory nerves are non-medullated, and consist of axis-cylinders surrounded by nucleated sheaths, in which, however, there are fewer nuclei than are found in the sheaths of ordinary non-medullated nerve fibers.

The olfactory center in the cortex is generally associated with the rhinencephalon.

The olfactary nerves are developed from the cells of the ectoderm which lines the olfactory pits; these cells undergo proliferation and give rise to what are termed the olfactory cells of the nose. The axons of the olfactory cells grow into the overlying olfactory bulb and form the olfactory nerves.

II pair of cranial nerves - the Optic nerve (n. opticus)

The optic nerve, or nerve of sight, consists mainly of fibers derived from the ganglionic cells of the retina. These axons terminate in arborizations around the cells in the lateral geniculate body, pulvinar, and superior colliculus which constitute the lower or primary visual centers. From the cells of the lateral geniculate body and the pulvinar fibers pass to the cortical visual center, situated in the cuneus and in the neighborhood of the calcarine fissure. A few fibers of the optic nerve, of small caliber, pass from the primary centers to the retina and are supposed to govern chemical changes in the retina and also the movements of some of its elements (pigment cells and cones). There are also a few fine fibers, afferent fibers, extending from the retina to the brain, that are supposed to be concerned in pupillary reflexes.

The optic nerve is peculiar in that its fibers and ganglion cells are probably third in the series of neurons from the receptors to the brain. Consequently the optic nerve corresponds rather to a tract of fibers within the brain than to the other cranial nerves. Its fibers pass backward and medialward through the orbit and optic foramen to the optic commissure where they partially decussate. The mixed fibers from the two nerves are continued in the optic tracts, the primary visual centers of the brain.

The orbital portion of the optic nerve is from 20 mm. to 30 mm. in length and has a slightly sinuous course to allow for movements of the eyeball. It is invested by an outer sheath of dura mater and an inner sheath from the arachnoid which are attached to the sclera around the area where the nerve fibers pierce the choroid and sclera of the bulb. A little behind the bulb of the eye the central artery of the retina with its accompanying vein perforates the optic nerve, and runs within it to the retina. As the nerve enters the optic foramen its dural sheath becomes continuous with that lining the orbit and the optic foramen. In the optic foramen the ophthalmic artery lies below and to its outer side. The intercranial portion of the optic nerve is about 10 mm. in length.

The Optic Chiasma (chiasma opticum), somewhat quadrilateral in form, rests upon the tuberculum sellae and on the anterior part of the diaphragma sellae. It is in relation, above, with the lamina terminalis; behind, with the tuber cinereum; on either side, with the anterior perforated substance. Within the chiasma, the optic nerves undergo a partial decussation. The fibers forming the medial part of each tract and posterior part of the chiasma have no connection with the optic nerves. They simply cross in the chiasma, and connect the medial geniculate bodies of the two sides; they form the commissure of Gudden. The remaining and principal part of the chiasma consists of two sets of fibers, crossed and uncrossed. The crossed fibers which are the more numerous, occupy the central part of the chiasma, and pass from the optic nerve of one side to the optic tract of the other, decussating in the chiasma with similar fibers of the opposite optic nerve. The uncrossed fibers occupy the lateral part of the chiasma, and pass from the nerve of one side into the tract of the same side.

The crossed fibers of the optic nerve tend to occupy the medial side of the nerve and the uncrossed fibers the lateral side. In the optic tract, however, the fibers are much more intermingled.

The Optic Tract passes backward and outward from the optic chiasma over the tuber cinereum and anterior perforated space to the cerebral peduncle and winds obliquely across its under surface. Its fibers terminate in the lateral geniculate body, the pulvinar and the superior colliculus. It is adherent to the tuber cinereum and the cerebral peduncle as it passes over them. In the region of the lateral geniculate body it splits into two bands. The medial and smaller one is a part of the commissure of Gudden and ends in the medial geniculate body.

From its mode of development, and from its structure, the optic nerve must be regarded as a prolongation of the brain substance, rather than as an ordinary cerebrospinal nerve. As it passes from the brain it receives sheaths from the three cerebral membranes, a perineural sheath from the pia mater, an intermediate sheath from the arachnoid, and an outer sheath from the dura mater, which is also connected with the periosteum as it passes through the optic foramen. These sheaths are separated from each other by cavities which communicate with the subdural and subarachnoid cavities respectively. The innermost or perineural sheath sends a process around the arteria centralis retinae into the interior of the nerve, and enters intimately into its structure.



III pair of cranial nerves - the Oculomotor nerve (n. oculomotorius)

The oculomotor nerve supplies somatic motor fibers to all the ocular muscles, except the Obliquus superior and Rectus lateralis; it also supplies through its connections with the ciliary ganglion, sympathetic motor fibers to the Sphincter pupillae and the Ciliaris muscles.

The fibers of the oculomotor nerve arise from a nucleus which lies in the gray substance of the floor of the cerebral aqueduct and extends in front of the aqueduct for a short distance into the floor of the third ventricle. From this nucleus the fibers pass forward through the tegmentum, the red nucleus, and the medial part of the substantia nigra, forming a series of curves with a lateral convexity, and emerge from the oculomotor sulcus on the medial side of the cerebral peduncle.

The nucleus of the oculomotor nerve does not consist of a continuous column of cells, but is broken up into a number of smaller nuclei, which are arranged in two groups, anterior and posterior. Those of the posterior group are six in number, five of which are symmetrical on the two sides of the middle line, while the sixth is centrally placed and is common to the nerves of both sides. The anterior group consists of two nuclei, an antero-medial and an antero-lateral.

The nucleus of the oculomotor nerve, considered from a physiological standpoint, can be subdivided into several smaller groups of cells, each group controlling a particular muscle.

On emerging from the brain, the nerve is invested with a sheath of pia mater, and enclosed in a prolongation from the arachnoid. It passes between the superior cerebellar and posterior cerebral arteries, and then pierces the dura mater in front of and lateral to the posterior clinoid process, passing between the free and attached borders of the tentorium cerebelli. It runs along the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus, above the other orbital nerves, receiving in its course one or two filaments from the cavernous plexus of the sympathetic, and a communicating branch from the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal. It then divides into two branches, which enter the orbit through the superior orbital fissure, between the two heads of the Rectus lateralis. Here the nerve is placed below the trochlear nerve and the frontal and lacrimal branches of the ophthalmic nerve, while the nasociliary nerve is placed between its two rami.

The superior ramus, the smaller, passes medialward over the optic nerve, and supplies the Rectus superior and Levator palpebrae superioris. The inferior ramus, the larger, divides into three branches. One passes beneath the optic nerve to the Rectus medialis; another, to the Rectus inferior; the third and longest runs forward between the Recti inferior and lateralis to the Obliquus inferior. From the last a short thick branch is given off to the lower part of the ciliary ganglion, and forms its short root. All these branches enter the muscles on their ocular surfaces, with the exception of the nerve to the Obliquus inferior, which enters the muscle at its posterior border.

IV pair of cranial nerves - the Trochlear nerve (n. trochlearis)

The trochlear nerve, the smallest of the cranial nerves, supplies the Obliquus superior oculi.

It arises from a nucleus situated in the floor of the cerebral aqueduct, opposite the upper part of the inferior colliculus. From its origin it runs downward through the tegmentum, and then turns backward into the upper part of the anterior medullary velum. Here it decussates with its fellow of the opposite side and emerges from the surface of the velum at the side of the frenulum veli, immediately behind the inferior colliculus.

The nerve is directed across the superior cerebellar peduncle, and then winds forward around the cerebral peduncle, immediately above the pons, pierces the dura mater in the free border of the tentorium cerebelli, just behind, and lateral to, the posterior clinoid process, and passes forward in the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus, between the oculomotor nerve and the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal. It crosses the oculomotor nerve, and enters the orbit through the superior orbital fissure. It now becomes the highest of all the nerves, and lies medial to the frontal nerve. In the orbit it passes medialward, above the origin of the Levator palpebrae superioris, and finally enters the orbital surface of the Obliquus superior.

In the lateral wall of the cavernous sinus the trochlear nerve forms communications with the ophthalmic division of the trigeminal and with the cavernous plexus of the sympathetic. In the superior orbital fissure it occasionally gives off a branch to the lacrimal nerve. It gives off a recurrent branch which passes backward between the layers of the tentorium cerebelli and divides into two or three filaments which may be traced as far as the wall of the transverse sinus.

VI pair of cranial nerves - the Abducent nerve (n. abducens)

The abducent nerve supplies the Rectus lateralis oculi.

Its fibers arise from a small nucleus situated in the upper part of the rhomboid fossa, close to the middle line and beneath the colliculus facialis. They pass downward and forward through the pons, and emerge in the furrow between the lower border of the pons and the upper end of the pyramid of the medulla oblongata.

From the nucleus of the sixth nerve, fibers are said to pass through the medial longitudinal fasciculus to the oculomotor nerve of the opposite side, along which they are carried to the Rectus medialis. The Rectus lateralis of one eye and the Rectus medialis of the other may therefore be said to receive their nerves from the same nucleus.

The nerve pierces the dura mater on the dorsum sellae of the sphenoid, runs through a notch in the bone below the posterior clinoid process, and passes forward through the cavernous sinus, on the lateral side of the internal carotid artery. It enters the orbit through the superior orbital fissure, above the ophthalmic vein, from which it is separated by a lamina of dura mater. It then passes between the two heads of the Rectus lateralis, and enters the ocular surface of that muscle. The abducent nerve is joined by several filaments from the carotid and cavernous plexuses, and by one from the ophthalmic nerve. The oculomotor, trochlear, ophthalmic, and abducent nerves bear certain relations to each other in the cavernous sinus, at the superior orbital fissure, and in the cavity of the orbit, as follows:

In the cavernous sinus the oculomotor, trochlear, and ophthalmic nerves are placed in the lateral wall of the sinus, in the order given, from above downward. The abducent nerve lies at the lateral side of the internal carotid artery. As these nerves pass forward to the superior orbital fissure, the oculomotor and ophthalmic divide into branches and the abducent nerve approaches the others; so that their relative positions are considerably changed.

In the superior orbital fissure the trochlear nerve and the frontal and lacrimal divisions of the ophthalmic lie in this order from the medial to the lateral side upon the same plane; they enter the cavity of the orbit above the muscles. The remaining nerves enter the orbit between the two heads of the Rectus lateralis. The superior division of the oculomotor is the highest of these; beneath this lies the nasociliary branch of the ophthalmic; then the inferior division of the oculomotor; and the abducent lowest of all.

In the orbit, the trochlear, frontal, and lacrimal nerves lie immediately beneath the periosteum, the trochlear nerve resting on the Obliquus superior, the frontal on the Levator palpebrae superioris, and the lacrimal on the Rectus lateralis. The superior division of the oculomotor nerve lies immediately beneath the Rectus superior, while the nasociliary nerve crosses the optic nerve to reach the medial wall of the orbit. Beneath these is the optic nerve, surrounded in front by the ciliary nerves, and having the ciliary ganglion on its lateral side, between it and the Rectus lateralis. Below the optic nerve are the inferior division of the oculomotor, and the abducent, the latter lying on the medial surface of the Rectus lateralis.



XI pair of cranial nerves - the Accessory nerve (n. accessorius; spinal accessory nerve)

The accessory nerve consists of two parts: a cranial and a spinal.

The Cranial Part (ramus internus; accessory portion) is the smaller of the two. Its fibers arise from the cells of the nucleus ambiguus and emerge as four or five delicate rootlets from the side of the medulla oblongata, below the roots of the vagus. It runs lateralward to the jugular foramen, where it interchanges fibers with the spinal portion or becomes united to it for a short distance; here it is also connected by one or two filaments with the jugular ganglion of the vagus. It then passes through the jugular foramen, separates from the spinal portion and is continued over the surface of the ganglion nodosum of the vagus, to the surface of which it is adherent, and is distributed principally to the pharyngeal and superior laryngeal branches of the vagus. Through the pharyngeal branch it probably supplies the Musculus uvulae and Levator veli palatini. Some few filaments from it are continued into the trunk of the vagus below the ganglion, to be distributed with the recurrent nerve and probably also with the cardiac nerves.

The Spinal Part (ramus externus; spinal portion) is firm in texture, and its fibers arise from the motor cells in the lateral part of the anterior column of the gray substance of the medulla spinalis as low as the fifth cervical nerve. Passing through the lateral funiculus of the medulla spinalis, they emerge on its surface and unite to form a single trunk, which ascends between the ligamentum denticulatum and the posterior roots of the spinal nerves; enters the skull through the foramen magnum, and is then directed to the jugular foramen, through which it passes, lying in the same sheath of dura mater as the vagus, but separated from it by a fold of the arachnoid. In the jugular foramen, it receives one or two filaments from the cranial part of the nerve, or else joins it for a short distance and then separates from it again. As its exit from the jugular foramen, it runs backward in front of the internal jugular vein in 66.6 per cent. of cases, and behind in it 33.3 per cent. The nerve then descends obliquely behind the Digastricus and Stylohyoideus to the upper part of the Sternocleidomastoideus; it pierces this muscle, and courses obliquely across the posterior triangle of the neck, to end in the deep surface of the Trapezius. As it traverses the Sternocleidomastoideus it gives several filaments to the muscle, and joins with branches from the second cervical nerve. In the posterior triangle it unites with the second and third cervical nerves, while beneath the Trapezius it forms a plexus with the third and fourth cervical nerves, and from this plexus fibers are distributed to the muscle.



XII pair of cranial nerves - the Hypoglossal nerve (n. hypoglossus)

The hypoglossal nerve is the motor nerve of the tongue.

Its fibers arise from the cells of the hypoglossal nucleus, which is an upward prolongation of the base of the anterior column of gray substance of the medulla spinalis. This nucleus is about 2 cm. in length, and its upper part corresponds with the trigonum hypoglossi, or lower portion of the medial eminence of the rhomboid fossa. The lower part of the nucleus extends downward into the closed part of the medulla oblongata, and there lies in relation to the ventro-lateral aspect of the central canal. The fibers run forward through the medulla oblongata, and emerge in the antero-lateral sulcus between the pyramid and the olive.

The rootlets of this nerve are collected into two bundles, which perforate the dura mater separately, opposite the hypoglossal canal in the occipital bone, and unite together after their passage through it; in some cases the canal is divided into two by a small bony spicule. The nerve descends almost vertically to a point corresponding with the angle of the mandible. It is at first deeply seated beneath the internal carotid artery and internal jugular vein, and intimately connected with the vagus nerve; it then passes forward between the vein and artery, and lower down in the neck becomes superficial below the Digastricus. The nerve then loops around the occipital artery, and crosses the external carotid and lingual arteries below the tendon of the Digastricus. It passes beneath the tendon of the Digastricus, the Stylohyoideus, and the Mylohyoideus, lying between the last-named muscle and the Hyoglossus, and communicates at the anterior border of the Hyoglossus with the lingual nerve; it is then continued forward in the fibers of the Genioglossus as far as the tip of the tongue, distributing branches to its muscular substance.



Branches of Communication.—Its branches of communication are, with the Vagus, First and second cervical nerves, Sympathetic, Lingual.

The communications with the vagus take place close to the skull, numerous filaments passing between the hypoglossal and the ganglion nodosum of the vagus through the mass of connective tissue which unites the two nerves. As the nerve winds around the occipital artery it gives off a filament to the pharyngeal plexus.

The communication with the sympathetic takes place opposite the atlas by branches derived from the superior cervical ganglion, and in the same situation the nerve is joined by a filament derived from the loop connecting the first and second cervical nerves.

The communications with the lingual take place near the anterior border of the Hyoglossus by numerous filaments which ascend upon the muscle.



Branches of Distribution.—The branches of distribution of the hypoglossal nerve are: Meningeal, Thyrohyoid, Descending, Muscular.

Of these branches, the meningeal, descending, thyrohyoid, and the muscular twig to the Geniohyoideus, are probably derived mainly from the branch which passes from the loop between the first and second cervical to join the hypoglossal.



Meningeal Branches (dural branches).—As the hypoglossal nerve passes through the hypoglossal canal it gives off, according to Luschka, several filaments to the dura mater in the posterior fossa of the skull.

The Descending Ramus (ramus descendens; descendens hypoglossi), long and slender, quits the hypoglossal where it turns around the occipital artery and descends in front of or in the sheath of the carotid vessels; it gives a branch to the superior belly of the Omohyoideus, and then joins the communicantes cervicales from the second and third cervical nerves; just below the middle of the neck, to form a loop, the ansa hypoglossi. From the convexity of this loop branches pass to supply the Sternohyoideus, the Sternothyreoideus, and the inferior belly of the Omohyoideus. According to Arnold, another filament descends in front of the vessels into the thorax, and joins the cardiac and phrenic nerves.

The Thyrohyoid Branch (ramus thyreohyoideus) arises from the hypoglossal near the posterior border of the hyoglossus; it runs obliquely across the greater cornu of the hyoid bone, and supplies the Thyreohyoideus muscle.

The Muscular Branches are distributed to the Styloglossus, Hyoglossus, Geniohyoideus, and Genioglossus. At the under surface of the tongue numerous slender branches pass upward into the substance of the organ to supply its intrinsic muscles.


Practice skills

Students are supposed to identify the following structures on the samples:



  • optic nerve (II pair)

  • oculomotor nerve (III pair)

  • trochlear nerve (IV pair)

  • abducent nerve (VI pair)

  • accessory nerve (XI pair)

  • hypoglossal nerve (ХП pair)


Practice class 9. V pair of cranial nerves: the trigeminal nerve. The innervation of skin of the head.
The aim: to learn the trigeminal nerve, its branches and objects of innervation; to understand the innervation of the skin of the head.

Professional orientation: the knowledge of this topic is necessary for doctors of all specialities; it represents special interest for therapists, neurologists, neuropathologists and others.

The plan of the practice class:

  1. Checking of the home assignment: oral quiz or written test control – 30 minutes.

  2. Summary lecture on the topic by teacher – 30 minutes.

    1. The general characteristic of nuclei, roots and ganglion of the trigeminal nerve.

    2. The ophthalmic nerve and its branches.

    3. The maxillary nerve and its branches.

    4. The mandibular nerve and its branches.

  3. Students’ self-taught time – 55 minutes

  4. Home-task – 5 minutes


The Trigeminal Nerve (N. Trigeminus; Fifth Or Trifacial Nerve)

The trigeminal nerve is the largest cranial nerve and is the great sensory nerve of the head and face, and the motor nerve of the muscles of mastication.

It emerges from the side of the pons, near its upper border, by a small motor and a large sensory root—the former being situated in front of and medial to the latter.

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