Vinnytsia national medical university named after m. I. Pirogov neurology department

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Stomatology Faculty
Lesson #8
Brainstem. Midbrain.

Cranial Nerves I-II-III-IV-VI
1. Goals:

    1. To study the anatomical basis of Cranial Nerves and clinical features of different types of Cranial Nerves Lesions and Diseases. To acquire the technique of the examination of the different Cranial Nerves.

2. Basic questions:

Brainstem._Midbrain._Cranial_Nerves_I,_II_III,_IV,_VI._Anatomical_Peculiarities._Pathways,_connections._Lesions_and_Diseases_of_Cranial_Nerves_I,_II,_III,_IV,_VI.'>2.1. Brainstem. Midbrain. Cranial Nerves I, II III, IV, VI. Anatomical Peculiarities. Pathways, connections. Lesions and Diseases of Cranial Nerves I, II, III, IV, VI.

3. Literature:

Mathias Baehr, M.D., Michael Frotscher, M.D. Duus’ Topical Diagnosis in Neurology. – P.167-207

Mark Mumenthaler, M.D., Heinrich Mattle, M.D. Fundamentals of Neurology. – P.22-27.


The brainstem is the most caudally situated and phylogenetically oldest portion of the brain. It is grossly subdivided into the medulla oblongata (usually called simply the medulla), pons, and midbrain (or mesencephalon). The medulla is the rostral continuation of the spinal cord, while the midbrain lies just below the diencephalon; the pons is the middle portion of the brainstem.

Ten of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves (CN III-XII) exit from the brainstem and are primarily responsible for the innervation of the head and neck. CN I (the olfactory nerve) is the initial segment of the olfactory pathway; CN II (the optic nerve) is, in fact, not a peripheral nerve at all, but rather a tract of the central nervous system. The brainstem contains a large number of fiber pathways, including all of the ascending and descending pathways linking the brain with the periphery. Some of these pathways cross the midline as they pass through the brainstem, and some of them form synapses in it before continuing along their path. The brainstem also contains many nuclei, including the nuclei of cranial nerves III through XII; the red nucleus and substantia nigra of the midbrain, the pontine nuclei, and the olivary nuclei of the medulla, all of which play an important role in motor regulatory circuits; and the nuclei of the quadrigeminal plate of the midbrain, which are important relay stations in the visual and auditory pathways. Furthermore, practically the entire brainstem is permeated by a diffuse network of more or less “densely packed” neurons (the reticular formation), which contains the essential autonomic regulatory centers for many vital bodily functions, including cardiac activity, circulation, and respiration. The reticular formation also sends activating impulses to the cerebral cortex that are necessary for the maintenance of consciousness. Descending pathways from the reticular formation influence the activity of the spinal motor neurons. Because the brainstem contains so many different nuclei and nerve pathways in such a compact space, even a small lesion within it can produce neurological deficits of several different types occurring simultaneously (as in the various brainstem vascular syndromes). A relatively common brainstem finding is so-called crossed paralysis or alternating hemiplegia, in which cranial nerve deficits ipsilateral to the lesion are seen in combination with paralysis of the contralateral side.

Cranial Nerves

Olfactory System (CN I)

The olfactory pathway (Figs. 4.7 and 4.8) is composed of the olfactory epithelium of the nose, the fila olfactoria (olfactory nerve = CN I), the olfactory bulb and tract, and a cortical area (the paleocortex) extending from the uncus of the temporal lobe across the anterior perforated substance to the medial surface of the frontal lobe under the genu of the corpus callosum.

The olfactory epithelium occupies an area of about 2 cm2 in the roof of each nasal cavity, overlying portions of the superior nasal concha and of the nasal septum. It contains receptor cells, supportive cells, and glands (Bowman’s glands) that secrete a serous fluid, the so-called olfactory mucus, in which aromatic substances are probably dissolved. The sensory cells (olfactory cells) are bipolar cells whose peripheral processes terminate in the olfactory hairs of the olfactory epithelium.

Fila olfactoria and olfactory bulb. The central processes (neurites) of the olfactory cells coalesce into bundles containing hundreds of unmyelinated fibers surrounded by a Schwann-cell sheath. These fila olfactoria, about 20 on either side, are, in fact, the olfactory nerves (CN I is thus composed of peripheral nerve fibers, but is not a single peripheral nerve in the usual sense). They pass through small holes in the cribriform (“sievelike”) plate and enter the olfactory bulb, where they form the first synapse of the olfactory pathway. Although it is not physically located in the cerebral cortex, the olfactory bulb is actually a piece of the telencephalon. Within it, complex synapses are made onto the dendrites of mitral cells, tufted cells, and granule cells.

Olfactory pathway. The first neuron of the olfactory pathway is the bipolar olfactory cell; the second neurons are the mitral and tufted

cells of the olfactory bulb. The neurites of these cells form the olfactory tract (2nd neuron), which lies adjacent to and just below the frontobasal (orbitofrontal) cortex. The olfactory tract divides into the lateral and medial olfactory striae in front of the anterior perforated substance; another portion of it terminates in the olfactory trigone, which also lies in front of the anterior perforated substance. The fibers of the lateral stria travel byway of the limen insulae to the amygdala, semilunar gyrus, and ambient gyrus (prepyriform area). This is the site of the 3rd neuron, which projects to the anterior portion of the parahippocampal gyrus (Brodmann area 28, containing the cortical projection fields and association area of the olfactory system). The fibers of the medial stria terminate on nuclei of the septal area below the genu of the corpus callosum (subcallosal area) and in front of the anterior commissure. Fibers emerging from these nuclei project, in turn, to the opposite hemisphere and to the limbic system. The olfactory pathway is the only sensory pathway that reaches the cerebral cortex without going through a relay in the thalamus. Its central connections are complex and still incompletely known.

Connections of the olfactory system with other brain areas. An appetizing aroma excites the appetite and induces reflex salivation, while a foul smell induces nausea and the urge to vomit, or even actual vomiting. These processes also involve the emotions: some odors are pleasant, others unpleasant. Such emotions probably come about through connections of the olfactory system with the hypothalamus, thalamus, and limbic system. Among its other connections, the septal area sends association fibers to the cingulate gyrus. The main connections of the olfactory system with autonomic areas are the medial forebrain bundle and the striae medullares thalami. The medial forebrain bundle runs laterally through the hypothalamus and gives off branches to hypothalamic nuclei. Some of its fibers continue into the brainstem to terminate in autonomic centers in the reticular formation, the salivatory nuclei, and the dorsal nucleus of the vagus nerve. The striae medullares thalami terminate in the habenular nucleus; this pathway then continues to the interpeduncular nucleus and the brainstem reticular formation.

Disturbances of smell can be classified as either quantitative or qualitative. Quantitative disturbances of smell include hyposmia (diminished smell) and anosmia (absence of smell). They are always due either to peripheral damage of the olfactory nerve, that is, of the fila olfactoria (e. g., because of rhinitis, trauma with disruption of the fila in the cribriform plate, or side effects of medication), or to central damage of the second neuron in the olfactory bulb and/or tract (olfactory groove meningioma is a classic cause). Qualitative disturbances of smell, also known as parosmias, may consist of an unpleasant cacosmia (e. g., fecal odor) or of hyperosmia (abnormally intense smell). They are usually due to central dysfunction, as in temporal lobe epilepsy.

Visual System (CN II)

Visual pathway

The retina (Fig. 4.9a) is the receptor surface for visual information. Like the optic nerve, it is a portion of the brain, despite its physical location at the periphery of the central nervous system. Its most important components are the sensory receptor cells, or photoreceptors, and several types of neurons of the visual pathway. The deepest cellular layer of the retina contains the photoreceptors (rods and cones); the two more superficial layers contain the bipolar neurons and the ganglion cells.

Rods and cones. When light falls on the retina, it induces a photochemical reaction in the rods and cones, which leads to the generation of impulses that are ultimately propagated to the visual cortex. The rods were long thought to be responsible for the perception of brightness and for vision in dim light, while the cones were thought to subserve color perception and vision in bright light. The fovea is the site of sharpest vision in the retina and contains only cones, which project onto the bipolar cells of the next neuronal layer in a one-to-one relationship. The remainder of the retina contains a mixture of rods and cones. The retinal image of a visually perceived object is upside-down and with left and right inverted, just like the image on the film in a camera.

Optic nerve, chiasm, and tract. The retinal bipolar cells receive input onto their dendrites from the rods and cones and transmit impulses further centrally to the ganglion cell layer. The long axons of the ganglion cells pass through the optic papilla (disk) and leave the eye as the optic nerve, which contains about 1 million fibers. Half of these fibers decussate in the optic chiasm: the fibers from the temporal half of each retina remain uncrossed, while those from the nasal half of each retina cross to the opposite side (Fig. 4.9a). Thus, at positions distal (posterior) to the optic chiasm, fibers from the temporal half of the ipsilateral retina and the nasal half of the contralateral retina are united in the optic tract. A small contingent of optic nerve fibers branches off the optic tracts and travels to the superior colliculi and to nuclei in the pretectal area (see Fig. 4.26). These fibers constitute the afferent arm of

various visual reflexes, and, in particular, of the important pupillary light reflex, which will be discussed further below.

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neuropathology -> Vinnytsia national medical university named after m. I. Pyrogov neurology department
neuropathology -> Vinnytsia national medical university named after m. I. Pirogov neurology department
neuropathology -> Vinnytsia national medical university named after m. I. Pyrogov neurology department
neuropathology -> Vinnytsia national medical university named after m. I. Pirogov neurology department
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neuropathology -> Vinnytsia national medical university named after m. I. Pirogov neurology department
neuropathology -> Vinnytsia national medical university named after m. I. Pirogov neurology department
neuropathology -> Vinnytsia national medical university named after m. I. Pirogov neurology department
neuropathology -> For self-education

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