Cranial Nerves Tutorial

Twelve pairs of cranial nerves are associated with the brain. The first two attach to the forebrain, and the rest are associated with the brain stem (cranial nerves labeledFigure 1). Other than the vagus nerves, which extend into the abdomen, cranial nerves serve only head and neck structures.

In most cases, the names of the cranial nerves reveal either the structures they serve, or innervate, or their functions. The nerves are also numbered, using Roman numerals, from the most rostral (anterior, superior) to the most caudal (posterior, inferior). Click on the names of the nerves to learn more.

I      Olfactory

II     Optic

III    Oculomotor

IV    Trochlear

V     Trigeminal

VI    Abducens

VII   Facial

VIII  Vestibulocochlear

IX    Glossopharyngeal

X     Vagus

XI    Accessory

XII   Hypoglossal