Cranial nerve nucleus

Cranial nerve nucleus
The cranial nerve nuclei schematically represented; dorsal view. Motor nuclei in red; sensory in blue. (The olfactory and optic centers are not represented.)
Latinnucleus nervi cranialis
NeuroLex IDnlx_28532
Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy

A cranial nerve nucleus is a collection of neurons (gray matter) in the brain stem that is associated with one or more of the cranial nerves. Axons carrying information to and from the cranial nerves form a synapse first at these nuclei. Lesions occurring at these nuclei can lead to effects resembling those seen by the severing of nerve(s) they are associated with. All the nuclei except that of the trochlear nerve (CN IV) supply nerves of the same side of the body.


Motor and sensory

In general, motor nuclei are closer to the front (ventral), and sensory nuclei and neurons are closer to the back (dorsal). This arrangement mirrors the arrangement of tracts in the spinal cord.


This list documents nuclei by the part of the brain they are found in:

Nuclei present in the Midbrain
Nuclei present in the Pons
Nuclei present in the medulla
Micrograph of the posterior portion of the open part of the medulla oblongata, showing the fourth ventricle (top of image) and the hypoglossal nucleus (medial - left of image) and the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve (lateral - right of image). H&E-LFB stain.


Nuclei of the cranial nerves
Olfactory nerve Olfactory bulb
Optic nerve Lateral geniculate nucleus
Oculomotor nerve Oculomotor nucleus
Edinger-Westphal nucleus
Trochlear nerve Trochlear nucleus
Trigeminal nerve Trigeminal nerve nuclei:
Mesencephalic nucleus
Principal sensory nucleus
Spinal trigeminal nucleus
Trigeminal motor nucleus
Abducens nerve Abducens nucleus
Facial nerve Facial motor nucleus
Superior salivatory nucleus
Solitary nucleus
Vestibulocochlear nerve Vestibular nuclei
w. subnuclei
Cochlear nucleus
w. subnuclei
Glossopharyngeal nerve Solitary nucleus
Spinal nucleus of the trigeminal nerve
Lateral nucleus of vagal trigone.
Nucleus ambiguus
Inferior salivatory nucleus
Vagus nerve Dorsal nucleus of vagus nerve
Nucleus ambiguus
Solitary nucleus
Spinal trigeminal nucleus
Accessory nerve Spinal accessory nucleus
Nucleus ambiguus
Hypoglossal nerve Hypoglossal nucleus

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