Portal:Cranial nerves

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Introduction

Left View of the human brain from below, showing origins of cranial nerves.
Right Juxtaposed skull base with foramina in which many nerves exit the skull.

Cranial nerves are the nerves that emerge directly from the brain (including the brainstem), in contrast to spinal nerves (which emerge from segments of the spinal cord). 10 of the cranial nerves originate in the brainstem. Cranial nerves relay information between the brain and parts of the body, primarily to and from regions of the head and neck.

Spinal nerves emerge sequentially from the spinal cord with the spinal nerve closest to the head (C1) emerging in the space above the first cervical vertebra. The cranial nerves, however, emerge from the central nervous system above this level. Each cranial nerve is paired and is present on both sides. Depending on definition in humans there are twelve or thirteen cranial nerves pairs, which are assigned Roman numerals I–XII, sometimes also including cranial nerve zero. The numbering of the cranial nerves is based on the order in which they emerge from the brain, front to back (brainstem).

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