Encyclopedia of Clinical Neuropsychology

2018 Edition
| Editors: Jeffrey S. Kreutzer, John DeLuca, Bruce Caplan

Cranial Nerves

  • Melissa J. McGinnEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-57111-9_311


Cranial nerves serve as conduits for communication between the brain and the body, providing motor and sensory innervation to structures in the head and neck as well as the thoracic and abdominal viscera. There are 12 pairs of cranial nerves, each of which is designated by both a Roman numeral and a name (see Table 1). Roman numerals I–XII indicate the rostrocaudal order in which cranial nerves emerge from the brain, while the name designated to each pair of cranial nerves denotes either its function or distribution.
Cranial Nerves, Table 1

Cranial Nerves Overview

Cranial nerve

Functional component(s)a

Cells of origin/termination

Associated cranial opening



Special sensory (SVA)

Olfactory epithelium/olfactory bulb

Cribriform plate (of ethmoid)



Special sensory (SSA)

Retina (retinal ganglion cells)/lateral geniculate nucleus

Optic foramen



Visceral motor (GVE)

Edinger-Westphal nucleus (ganglion:...

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References and Readings

  1. Kandel, E. R., Schwartz, J. H., & Jessell, T. M. (2000). Principles of neural science (4th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  2. Shaw, J. P. (1992). A history of the enumeration of cranial nerves by European and British Anatomists from the time of Galen to 1895, with comments on nomenclature. Clinical Anatomy, 5(6), 466–484.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anatomy and NeurobiologyVirginia Commonwealth University School of MedicineRichmondUSA