Cranial Nerve – Physical Exam

Cranial Nerve Exam:

Cranial nerves are nerves that emerge directly from the brain and the brainstem, in contrast to spinal nerves (which emerge from various segments of the spinal cord). Information is exchanged between the brain and various regions, primarily of the head and neck, via the cranial nerves.

Nerve nameNerve no.FunctionType
Olfactory nerve1SmellSensory
Optic nerve2Vision, sightSensory
Oculomotor nerve3Eye movement, Pupillary constriction, accommodation, eyelid openingMotor
Trochlear nerve4Eye movement (superior oblique muscle)Motor
Trigeminal nerve5Mastication, Facial sensation, Corneal reflexSensory and Motor
Abducens never6Eye movement (lateral rectus)Motor
Facial never7Facial movement, taste from anterior 2/3 of tongue, lacrimation, salivation, eyelid closing, stapedius muscle in earSensory and Motor
Vestibulocochlear nerve8Hearing, balanceSensory
Glossopharyngeal nerve9Taste from posterior 1/3 of tongue, swallowing, salivation (parotid gland), monitoring carotid body and sinus chemo- and baroreceptorsSensory and Motor
Vegus nerve10Taste from epiglottic region, swallowing, palate elevation, midline uvula, talking, coughing, thoracoabdominal viscera, monitoring aortic arch chemo- and baroreceptorsSensory and Motor
Accessory nerve11Head turning, shoulder shrugging (SCM, trapezius)Motor
Hypoglossal nerve12Tongue movementMotor


This video on cranial nerve exam aims to give you an idea of what’s required in the Cranial Nerve Examination OSCE.
To see the written guide alongside the video head over to our website

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