Cranial Nerve X:Vagus Nerve

by Craig Canby, PhD

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    The vagus nerve is a very complex nerve. It literally is derived from a word meaning wandering. This nerve wanders from the brainstem, the medullary area, all the way down into the abdominal cavity. As one might expect because of this wide range of innervation, it’s going to convey a wide array of functional components as well. One would be general somatic afferents are conveyed through the vagus. General visceral afferent nerve fibers are also found in this cranial nerve. We also will have special afferents, general visceral efferents. Lastly, this nerve innervates the fourth pharyngeal arch, so muscles derived from that arch are innervated by the vagus nerve, so branchial efferents here. General somatic afferent nerve fibers conveyed in the vagus are going to innervate the larynx and laryngopharyx in this general area. They will also innervate deep parts of the auricle and part of the external acoustic meatus in this area. What we cannot see and what is not highlighted here is the vagus is one of several sources for the innervation of the dura mater of the posterior cranial fossa, in this case specifically. The next functional component for you to understand is that of the general visceral afferents. First, general visceral afferents through the vagus are conveying information from the aortic body chemoreceptors as well as the aortic arch baroreceptors. They would be located along the aortic arch shown in this general area. The esophagus is also conveying general visceral afferents through this particular nerve. It’s located posterior to the trachea and is shaded in red for your identification. Structures derived from the foregut and midgut, those viscera, and several of them are shaded in the abdominal cavity for you, are conveying general visceral afferents to the vagus. The bronchi and lungs and you can see...

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Cranial Nerve X:Vagus Nerve by Craig Canby, PhD is from the course 12 Cranial Nerves and Their Functions.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Deep parts of the auricle
    2. Middle ear cavity
    3. Soft palate
    4. Parts of the nasal cavity
    5. Deep structures of the lower neck
    1. Carotid arch baroreceptors
    2. Aortic body chemoreceptors
    3. Midgut derived viscera
    4. Esophagus
    5. Bronchi and lungs
    1. Laryngeal smooth muscles and glands
    2. Parotid gland
    3. Lacrimal glands
    4. Sublingual salivary glands
    5. Submandibular salivary glands
    1. Palatoglossus
    2. Hyoglossus
    3. Stylopharyngeus
    4. Styloglossus
    5. Genioglossus

    Author of lecture Cranial Nerve X:Vagus Nerve

     Craig Canby, PhD

    Craig Canby, PhD

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