Anatomy Illustrations of the Twelve Cranial Nerves
This gallery contains realism medical illustrations of all the twelve pairs of cranial nerves that stem from the ventral surface of the human brain. All the cranial nerves emerge from the brain, with anatomical difference being that nerves 1 and 2 emerge from the cerebrum and the other ten emerge from the actual brainstem. The cranial nerves are called as such, as all other nerves supplying the human body derive from the spinal cord or nervous system. Hence the cranial nerves all derive from the brain. The cranial nerves pass through the skull foramina, fissures, or canals to exit the cranial vault where they distribute to their respective structures.
The function of nerves in the human body are to control motor or movement plus to carry sensory information to structures in the head, neck, thorax and abdomen. They carry out specific tasks as illustrated in each of the images below, and are separated from other nerves within the human body because they all stem from the brain. The primary function of the nerve cells of the body therefore is communication. This is accomplished by passing electrical and/or chemical messages from neuron to neuron, or from neuron to other target cells.
All illustrations were completed in watercolour, a medium used to create fine detail associated with anatomy, to finish with realism style illustrations. Completed by lead medical artist Joanna Culley.
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Origins of the Cranial Nerves
This illustration of the brain shows the origins of each of the 12 cranial nerves, and number 12 the upper cervical spinal cord. The fibres of the nerves can be traced into the substance of the brain to a special nucleus of gray substance. Made up of both sensory and afferent (motor) the cranial nerves arise from groups of nerve cells outside the brain. Some of these nerve cells are grouped to form ganglia on the trunks of the nerves or may be situated in peripheral sensory organs such as the nose and eye. The ganglia are bulb shaped tissue masses and are simply a mass of nerve cell bodies.
The nerves perform our most vital functions such as sight, eating, balance and hearing. The nerves travel to their various organs, and exit and enter the cranium through small holes or foramina in the base of the cranium.
Listing of the Twelve Cranial Nerves
- Cranial nerve I Olfactory
- Cranial nerve II Optic
- Cranial nerve III Oculomotor
- Cranial nerve IV Trochlear
- Cranial nerve V Trigeminal
- Cranial nerve VI Abducens
- Cranial nerve VII Facial
- Cranial nerve VIII Vestibulocochlear
- Cranial nerve IX Glossopharyngeal
- Cranial nerve X Vagus
- Cranial nerve XI Accessory
- Cranial nerve XII Hypoglossal
Related Anatomy Illustrations
- Case study for Cranial Nerves Project for the British Dental Journal
- Personal blog on Bell's Palsy - the condition when the cranial nerve 7 - facial nerve stops working
- Illustrations of the anatomy of the head and neck
- Images showing the anatomy of the eye
- Ear anatomy gallery
- Digestive tract and digestive system images
- More examples of Watercolour Medical Art
- More skin illustrations