Cranial nerves

The 12 nerves that go directly from the brain to parts of the head and neck are called the cranial nerves. Cranial nerves carry sensation from the face, head, and neck to the brain; control the muscles in the face and throat; permit seeing, hearing, smelling, and tasting; and connect the balance center of the inner ear to the brain.

The cranial nerves also control movement of the eyes and tongue and regulate certain body functions.

Last Updated: June 3, 2008

Author: Caroline Rea, RN, BS, MS

Medical Review: Martin Gabica, MD - Family Medicine & Barrie J. Hurwitz, MD - Neurology

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