1.     7th cranial nerve. Intermedius nerve

2.     8th cranial nerve

3.     9th cranial nerve


Lesson No 22

Theme 1. 7th cranial nerve. Intermedius nerve


VII Facial nerve consists of 1- proper facial nerve, which has fibers starting from motor nucleus in depth of facial colliculus in rhomboid fossa, and 2- intermediate nerve, which has a fibers of sensory nucleus of solitarius tract and parasympathetic - superior salivatory nucleus.

Facial nerve passes through facial canal, gives off motor branch for stapedius muscle, then exits from skull through the stylomastoid foramen and innervates posterior auricular, stylohyoid muscles and posterior belly of digastric muscle. Facial nerve enters into thickness of parotid salivary glands (but does not innervate it!) and forms there parotid plexus. Last gives off the motor branches which innervate facial expression (mimetic) muscles. There are: temporal branches (supply auricular, orbicularis oculi and occipitofrontalis muscles), zygomatic branches (they supply zygomatic major and orbicularis oculi muscles), buccal branches (supply zygomatic major and minor, levator labii superioris, buccinator, orbicularis oris, nasalis,  and risorius muscles), marginal mandibulae branch (supplies depressor anguli oris and depressor labii inferioris, mentalis muscles) and cervical branch (for the platisma).

Intermediate nerve has two divisions: Nervus petrosus major and Chorda tympani.

The facial nerve (788, 790) consists of a motor and a sensory part, the latter being frequently described under the name of the nervus intermedius (pars intermedii of Wrisberg). The two parts emerge at the lower border of the pons in the recess between the olive and the inferior peduncle, the motor part being the more medial, immediately to the lateral side of the sensory part is the acoustic nerve.

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Plan of the facial and intermediate nerves and their communication with other nerves.


  The motor part supplies somatic motor fibers to the muscles of the face, scalp, and auricle, the Buccinator and Platysma, the Stapedius, the Stylohyoideus, and posterior belly of the Digastricus; it also contains some sympathetic motor fibers which constitute the vasodilator nerves of the submaxillary and sublingual glands, and are conveyed through the chorda tympani nerve. These are preganglionic fibers of the sympathetic system and terminate in the submaxillary ganglion and small ganglia in the hilus of the submaxillary gland. From these ganglia postganglionic fibers are conveyed to these glands. The sensory part contains the fibers of taste for the anterior two-thirds of the tongue and a few somatic sensory fibers from the middle ear region. A few splanchnic sensory fibers are also present.

  The motor root arises from a nucleus which lies deeply in the reticular formation of the lower part of the pons. This nucleus is situated above the nucleus ambiguus, behind the superior olivary nucleus, and medial to the spinal tract of the trigeminal nerve. From this origin the fibers pursue a curved course in the substance of the pons. They first pass backward and medialward toward the rhomboid fossa, and, reaching the posterior end of the nucleus of the abducent nerve, run upward close to the middle line beneath the colliculus fasciculus. At the anterior end of the nucleus of the abducent nerve they make a second bend, and run downward and forward through the pons to their point of emergence between the olive and the inferior peduncle.

  The sensory root arises from the genicular ganglion, which is situated on the geniculum of the facial nerve in the facial canal, behind the hiatus of the canal. The cells of this ganglion are unipolar, and the single process divides in a T-shaped manner into central and peripheral branches. The central branches leave the trunk of the facial nerve in the internal acoustic meatus, and form the sensory root; the peripheral branches are continued into the chorda tympani and greater superficial petrosal nerves. Entering the brain at the lower border of the pons between the motor root and the acoustic nerve, the fibers of the sensory root pass into the substance of the medulla oblongata and end in the upper part of the terminal nucleus of the glossopharyngeal nerve and in the fasciculus solitarius.

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The course and connections of the facial nerve in the temporal bone.


  From their superficial attachments to the brain, the two roots of the facial nerve pass lateralward and forward with the acoustic nerve to the internal acoustic meatus. In the meatus the motor root lies in a groove on the upper and anterior surface of the acoustic nerve, the sensory root being placed between them.

  At the bottom of the meatus, the facial nerve enters the facial canal, which it traverses to its termination at the stylomastoid foramen. It is at first directed lateralward between the cochlea and vestibule toward the medial wall of the tympanic cavity; it then bends suddenly backward and arches downward behind the tympanic cavity to the stylomastoid foramen. The point where it changes its direction is named the geniculum; it presents a reddish gangliform swelling, the genicular ganglion (ganglion geniculi; geniculate ganglion; nucleus of the sensory root of the nerve)(789). On emerging from the stylomastoid foramen, the facial nerve runs forward in the substance of the parotid gland, crosses the external carotid artery, and divides behind the ramus of the mandible into branches, from which numerous offsets are distributed over the side of the head, face, and upper part of the neck, supplying the superficial muscles in these regions. The branches and their offsets unite to form the parotid plexus.


Branches of Communication.—The branches of communication of the facial nerve may be arranged as follows:

In the internal acoustic meatus……

With the acoustic nerve.

At the genicular ganglion

With the sphenopalatine ganglion by the greater superficial petrosal nerve.

With the otic ganglion by a branch which joins the lesser superficial petrosal nerve.

With the sympathetic on the middle meningeal artery.

In the facial canal………

With the auricular branch of the vagus.

At its exit from the stylomastoid foramen……

With the glossopharyngeal.

With the vagus.

With the great auricular.

With the auriculotemporal.

Behind the ear

With the lesser occipital.

On the face…

With the trigeminal.

In the neck…

With the cutaneous cervical.


  In the internal acoustic meatus some minute filaments pass from the facial to the acoustic nerve.

  The greater superficial petrosal nerve (large superficial petrosal nerve) arises from the genicular ganglion, and consists chiefly of sensory branches which are distributed to the mucous membrane of the soft palate; but it probably contains a few motor fibers which form the motor root of the sphenopalatine ganglion. It passes forward through the hiatus of the facial canal, and runs in a sulcus on the anterior surface of the petrous portion of the temporal bone beneath the semilunar ganglion, to the foramen lacerum. It receives a twig from the tympanic plexus, and in the foramen is joined by the deep petrosal, from the sympathetic plexus on the internal carotid artery, to form the nerve of the pterygoid canal which passes forward through the pterygoid canal and ends in the sphenopalatine ganglion. The genicular ganglion is connected with the otic ganglion by a branch which joins the lesser superficial petrosal nerve, and also with the sympathetic filaments accompanying the middle meningeal artery. According to Arnold, a twig passes back from the ganglion to the acoustic nerve. Just before the facial nerve emerges from the stylomastoid foramen, it generally receives a twig from the auricular branch of the vagus.

  After its exit from the stylomastoid foramen, the facial nerve sends a twig to the glossopharyngeal, and communicates with the auricular branch of the vagus, with the great auricular nerve of the cervical plexus, with the auriculotemporal nerve in the parotid gland, and with the lesser occipital behind the ear; on the face with the terminal branches of the trigeminal, and in the neck with the cutaneous cervical nerve.


Branches of Distribution.—The branches of distribution of the facial nerve may be thus arranged:

With the facial canal……..

Nerve to the Stapedius muscle.

Chorda tympani.

At its exit from the stylomastoid foramen………

Posterior auricular.



On the face……






  The Nerve to the Stapedius (n. stapedius; tympanic branch) arises opposite the pyramidal eminence (page 1042); it passes through a small canal in this eminence to reach the muscle.

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The nerves of the scalp, face, and side of neck.


  The Chorda Tympani Nerve is given off from the facial as it passes downward behind the tympanic cavity, about 6 mm. from the stylomastoid foramen. It runs upward and forward in a canal, and enters the tympanic cavity, through an aperture (iter chordæ posterius) on its posterior wall, close to the medial surface of the posterior border of the tympanic membrane and on a level with the upper end of the manubrium of the malleus. It traverses the tympanic cavity, between the fibrous and mucous layers of the tympanic membrane, crosses the manubrium of the malleus, and emerges from the cavity through a foramen situated at the inner end of the petrotympanic fissure, and named the iter chordæ anterius (canal of Huguier). It then descends between the Pterygoideus externus and internus on the medial surface of the spina angularis of the sphenoid, which it sometimes grooves, and joins, at an acute angle, the posterior border of the lingual nerve. It receives a few efferent fibers from the motor root; these enter the submaxillary ganglion, and through it are distributed to the submaxillary and sublingual glands; the majority of its fibers are afferent, and are continued onward through the muscular substance of the tongue to the mucous membrane covering its anterior two-thirds; they constitute the nerve of taste for this portion of the tongue. Before uniting with the lingual nerve the chorda tympani is joined by a small branch from the otic ganglion.

  The Posterior Auricular Nerve (n. auricularis posterior) arises close to the stylo-mastoid foramen, and runs upward in front of the mastoid process; here it is joined by a filament from the auricular branch of the vagus, and communicates with the posterior branch of the great auricular, and with the lesser occipital. As it ascends between the external acoustic meatus and mastoid process it divides into auricular and occipital branches. The auricular branch supplies the Auricularis posterior and the intrinsic muscles on the cranial surface of the auricula. The occipital branch, the larger, passes backward along the superior nuchal line of the occipital bone, and supplies the Occipitalis.

  The Digastric Branch (ramus digastricus) arises close to the stylomastoid foramen, and divides into several filaments, which supply the posterior belly of the Digastricus; one of these filaments joins the glossopharyngeal nerve.

  The Stylohyoid Branch (ramus stylohyoideus) frequently arises in conjunction with the digastric branch; it is long and slender, and enters the Stylohyoideus about its middle.

  The Temporal Branches (rami temporales) cross the zygomatic arch to the temporal region, supplying the Auriculares anterior and superior, and joining with the zygomaticotemporal branch of the maxillary, and with the auriculotemporal branch of the mandibular. The more anterior branches supply the Frontalis, the Orbicularis oculi, and the Corrugator, and join the supraorbital and lacrimal branches of the ophthalmic.

  The Zygomatic Branches (rami zygomatici; malar branches) run across the zygomatic bone to the lateral angle of the orbit, where they supply the Orbicularis oculi, and join with filaments from the lacrimal nerve and the zygomaticofacial branch of the maxillary nerve.

  The Buccal Branches (rami buccales; infraorbital branches), of larger size than the rest, pass horizontally forward to be distributed below the orbit and around the mouth. The superficial branches run beneath the skin and above the superficial muscles of the face, which they supply: some are distributed to the Procerus, joining at the medial angle of the orbit with the infratrochlear and nasociliary branches of the ophthalmic. The deep branches pass beneath the Zygomaticus and the Quadratus labii superioris, supplying them and forming an infraorbital plexus with the infraorbital branch of the maxillary nerve. These branches also supply the small muscles of the nose. The lower deep branches supply the Buccinator and Orbicularis oris, and join with filaments of the buccinator branch of the mandibular nerve.

  The Mandibular Branch (ramus marginalis mandibulæ) passes forward beneath the Platysma and Triangularis, supplying the muscles of the lower lip and chin, and communicating with the mental branch of the inferior alveolar nerve.

  The Cervical Branch (ramus colli) runs forward beneath the Platysma, and forms a series of arches across the side of the neck over the suprahyoid region. One branch descends to join the cervical cutaneous nerve from the cervical plexus; others supply the Platysma.


Greater petrosal nerve (preganglionic secretory fibers to the lacrimal glands, nasal glands and palatal glands) separates off from the geniculate ganglion, extends through the hiatus of the canal for the greater petrosal nerve, across the foramen lacerum and finally through the pterygoid canal to the pterygopalatine ganglion.

Chorda tympani carries preganglionic secretory fibers to the submandibular and sublingual glands and taste fibers to the anterior two third of the tongue. Taste (sensory) fibers contain peripheral axons of cells localized in geniculate ganglion. The central process of neurocytes of this ganglion terminate in nucleus of solitarius tract. Chorda tympani passes through the petrotympanic fissura and joints the lingual nerve (from the Vth cranial nerve), then its branches reach the tongue and parasympathetic submandibular and sublingual ganglia for innervating the same names salivary glands.

Nuclei of the V-XII Cranial Nerves








Motor nucleus

mesencephalic, pontine, spinal nuclei




mesencephalon, pons, spinal cord





Colliculus facialis (superficially)



Facial (forms genu)

nucleus of the tractus solitarius

superior salivatory





Colliculus facialis (deep),





Superior, inferior, medial and lateral vestibular (4),

Ventral and dorsal cochlear (2)

All sensory

Vestibular area


lateral recess




nucleus of the tractus solitarius

Inferior salivatory





Medial eminence

Medulla oblongata




nucleus of the tractus solitarius

dorsal nucleus





Medial eminence

Medulla oblongata

Trigone of the vagus nerve



Cranial nucleus,

spinal nucleus



Medial eminence

spinal cord





Trigone of the hypoglossal nerve



Sphenopalatine Ganglion (ganglion of Meckel)

—The sphenopalatine ganglion, the largest of the sympathetic ganglia associated with the branches of the trigeminal nerve, is deeply placed in the pterygopalatine fossa, close to the sphenopalatine foramen. It is triangular or heart-shaped, of a reddish-gray color, and is situated just below the maxillary nerve as it crosses the fossa. It receives a sensory, a motor, and a sympathetic root.

  Its sensory root is derived from two sphenopalatine branches of the maxillary nerve; their fibers, for the most part, pass directly into the palatine nerves; a few, however, enter the ganglion, constituting its sensory root. Its motor root is probably derived from the nervus intermedius through the greater superficial petrosal nerve and is supposed to consist in part of sympathetic efferent (preganglionic) fibers from the medulla. In the sphenopalatine ganglion they form synapses with neurons whose postganglionic axons, vasodilator and secretory fibers, are distributed with the deep branches of the trigeminal to the mucous membrane of the nose, soft palate, tonsils, uvula, roof of the mouth, upper lip and gums, and to the upper part of the pharynx. Its sympathetic root is derived from the carotid plexus through the deep petrosal nerve. These two nerves join to form the nerve of the pterygoid canal before their entrance into the ganglion.

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The sphenopalatine ganglion and its branches.


  The greater superficial petrosal nerve (n. petrosus superficialis major; large superficial petrosal nerve) is given off from the genicular ganglion of the facial nerve; it passes through the hiatus of the facial canal, enters the cranial cavity, and runs forward beneath the dura mater in a groove on the anterior surface of the petrous portion of the temporal bone. It then enters the cartilaginous substance which fills the foramen lacerum, and joining with the deep petrosal branch forms the nerve of the pterygoid canal.

  The deep petrosal nerve (n. petrosus profundus; large deep petrosal nerve) is given off from the carotid plexus, and runs through the carotid canal lateral to the internal carotid artery. It then enters the cartilaginous substance which fills the foramen lacerum, and joins with the greater superficial petrosal nerve to form the nerve of the pterygoid canal.

  The nerve of the pterygoid canal (n. canalis pterygoidei [Vidii]; Vidian nerve), formed by the junction of the two preceding nerves in the cartilaginous substance which fills the foramen lacerum, passes forward, through the pterygoid canal, with the corresponding artery, and is joined by a small ascending sphenoidal branch from the otic ganglion. Finally, it enters the pterygopalatine fossa, and joins the posterior angle of the sphenopalatine ganglion.



The tympanic cavity contains the tympanic plexus and the facial nerve. Branches from the plexus and the facial nerve supply structures within the tympanic cavity but also leave the cavity to supply structures on the face.

Tympanic plexus

The nerves that constitute the tympanic plexus ramify on the surface of the promontory on the medial wall of the tympanic cavity. They are derived from the tympanic branch of the glossopharyngeal nerve and the caroticotympanic nerves (Fig. 36.13). The former arises from the inferior ganglion of the glossopharyngeal nerve, and reaches the tympanic cavity via the tympanic canaliculus for the tympanic nerve. The superior and inferior caroticotympanic nerves are postganglionic sympathetic fibres which are derived from the carotid sympathetic plexus and traverse the wall of the carotid canal to join the plexus.

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Fig. 36.13 The intracranial branches of the facial and glossopharyngeal nerves and the connections of the tympanic plexus and the otic ganglion. The course of the taste fibres from the mucous membrane of the palate and from the anterior presulcal part of the tongue is represented by the blue lines.

The tympanic plexus supplies branches to the mucosa of the tympanic cavity, pharyngotympanic tube and mastoid air cells. It sends a branch to the greater petrosal nerve via an opening anterior to the fenestra vestibuli. The lesser petrosal nerve, which may be regarded as the continuation of the tympanic branch of the glossopharyngeal nerve, traverses the tympanic plexus. It occupies a small canal below that for the tensor tympani. It runs past, and receives a connecting branch from, the geniculate ganglion of the facial nerve. The lesser petrosal nerve emerges from the anterior surface of the temporal bone via a small opening lateral to the hiatus for the greater petrosal nerve and then traverses the foramen ovale or the small canaliculus innominatus to join the otic ganglion. Postganglionic secretomotor fibres leave this ganglion in the auriculotemporal nerve to supply the parotid gland. In former times, the operation of tympanic neurectomy was undertaken to reduce salivation in patients who drooled and to diminish facial sweating in those with Frey's syndrome following parotidectomy: less invasive and more effective procedures are employed nowadays.

Facial nerve

The facial nerve enters the temporal bone through the internal acoustic meatus accompanied by the vestibulocochlear nerve (Fig. 36.7). At this point, the motor root, which supplies the muscles of the face, and the nervus intermedius, which contains sensory fibres concerned with the perception of taste and parasympathetic (secretomotor) fibres to various glands, are separate components. They merge within the meatus. At the end of the meatus, the facial nerve enters its own canal, the facial canal, which runs across the medial wall and down the posterior wall of the tympanic cavity to the stylomastoid foramen. As the nerve enters the facial canal, there is a bend (genu) which houses the geniculate ganglion (Figs 36.7, 36.13).

The branches which arise from the facial nerve within the temporal bone can be divided into those which come from the geniculate ganglion and those which arise within the facial canal.

The main branch from the geniculate ganglion is the greater (superficial) petrosal nerve, a branch of the nervus intermedius. The greater petrosal nerve passes anteriorly, receives a branch from the tympanic plexus and traverses a hiatus on the anterior surface of the petrous part of the temporal bone. It enters the middle cranial fossa, runs forwards in a groove on the bone above the lesser petrosal nerve and then passes beneath the trigeminal ganglion to reach the foramen lacerum. Here it is joined by the deep petrosal nerve from the internal carotid sympathetic plexus, to become the nerve of the pterygoid canal (Vidian nerve). The greater petrosal nerve contains parasympathetic fibres destined for the pterygopalatine ganglion, and taste fibres from the palate.

The nerve to stapedius arises from the facial nerve in the facial nerve canal behind the pyramidal eminence of the posterior wall of the tympanic cavity. It passes forwards through a small canal to reach the muscle.

The chorda tympani (Figs 36.13, 36.14) leaves the facial nerve some 6 mm above the stylomastoid foramen and runs anterosuperiorly in a canal to enter the tympanic cavity via the posterior canaliculus. It then curves anteriorly in the substance of the tympanic membrane between its mucous and fibrous layers (Fig. 36.14A), and crosses medial to the upper part of the handle of the malleus to the anterior wall of the tympanic cavity, where it enters the anterior canaliculus. It exits the skull at the petrotympanic fissure, and its further course is described on page 543. The chorda tympani contains parasympathetic fibres which supply the submandibular and sublingual salivary glands via the submandibular ganglion and taste fibres from the anterior two-thirds of the tongue.

The geniculate ganglion also communicates with the lesser petrosal nerve.

Dehiscences of the facial nerve canal

The facial nerve may be somewhat variable in its anatomical course through the temporal bone (Proctor & Nager 1982). It may split into two or three strands, starting at the geniculate ganglion and then make its way across the promontory to the stylomastoid foramen, or pass a few millimetres posteriorly to its second genu, before it turns inferiorly posterior to the fossa incudis, a position where it is particularly vulnerable during surgical exploration of the mastoid antrum. The more proximal the division into strands, the more bizarre is the subsequent course. More distal bifurcations pass either side of the fenestra vestibuli. It may be dehiscent, particularly in its second part, when it occasionally overhangs the stapes, or run inferior to the stapedial superstructure, a position which renders it vulnerable during surgery to the stapes (Barnes et al 2001). The motor fibres to the face may be carried through the chorda tympani, which is then enlarged. When this is the case, the distal facial nerve dwindles to a fibrous strand in a narrowed stylomastoid foramen. In chronic bone disease in the tympanic cavity, the facial nerve may be exposed in its canal. Inflammation may lead to facial paralysis of the infranuclear or lower motor neurone type.

Bell's palsy

Bell's palsy is the name given to a lower motor neurone palsy of the facial nerve which happens spontaneously and without obvious cause. It is characterized by a flaccid paralysis of the ipsilateral muscles of facial expression; decreased lacrimation in the ipsilateral eye (which is controlled by neurones in the greater petrosal nerve); and hyperacusis or decreased tolerance of loud noises in the ipsilateral ear as a result of paralysis of stapedius. Its cause remains the subject of speculation, but recent MRI studies suggest that it may be caused by viral neuronitis either in the bony first part of the facial canal (labyrinthine segment) at the apex of the internal auditory canal, or in the adjacent brainstem. In the vast majority of cases, spontaneous full recovery takes place after a few weeks.


The facial nerve emerges from the base of the skull at the stylomastoid foramen and almost immediately gives off the nerves to the posterior belly of digastric and stylohyoid, and the posterior auricular nerve, which supplies the occipital belly of occipitofrontalis and some of the auricular muscles (Fig. 29.16A).

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Fig. 29.16 Distribution of the facial nerve. A, The branches given off immediately after the nerve exits the stylomastoid foramen. B, The branches of the nerve on the face.
(From Drake, Vogl and Mitchell 2005.)

The nerve next enters the parotid gland high up on its posteromedial surface and passes forwards and downwards behind the mandibular ramus. Within the substance of the gland it branches into superior (temporofacial) and inferior (cervicofacial) trunks, usually just behind and superficial to the retromandibular vein. The trunks branch further to form a parotid plexus (pes anserinus). Five main terminal branches arise from the plexus, they diverge within the gland and leave by its anteromedial surface, medial to its anterior margin, to supply the muscles of facial expression (Fig. 29.16B). Six distinctive anastomotic patterns were originally classified by Davis et al (1956) and these are illustrated in Fig. 29.17. Numerous microdissection studies have demonstrated that branching patterns and anastomoses between branches, both within the parotid and on the face, exhibit considerable individual variation (e.g. Lineaweaver et al 1997; Kwak et al 2004): the account that follows is therefore an overview. In surgical terms these anastomoses are important, and presumably explain why accidental or deliberate division of a small branch often fails to result in the expected facial nerve weakness. The surface anatomy of the facial nerve is described in Chapter 25.

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Fig. 29.17 Pattern of branching of the facial nerve.
(Modified with permission from Berkovitz BKB, Moxham BJ 2002 Head and Neck Anatomy. London: Martin Dunitz, and from Davis RA, Anson BJ, Budinger JM, Kurth IE 1956 Surgical anatomy of the facial nerve and parotid gland based upon a study of 350 cervicofacial halves. Surg Gynecol Obstet 102: 385–412, with permission from the American College of Surgeons.)

The temporal branch usually divides into anterior and posterior rami soon after piercing the parotidomasseteric fascia below the zygomatic arch; there is often a middle (frontal) ramus. These rami cross the arch in subcutaneous tissue and above the arch lie in the subgaleal space, where their course is extremely variable. Twigs supply intrinsic muscles on the lateral surface of the auricle, and the anterior and superior auricular muscles, and communicate with the zygomaticotemporal branch of the maxillary nerve and the auriculotemporal branch of the mandibular nerve. The more anterior branches supply the frontal belly of occipitofrontalis, orbicularis oculi and corrugator, and join the supraorbital and lacrimal branches of the ophthalmic nerve.

Zygomatic branches are generally multiple. They cross the zygomatic bone to the lateral canthus of the eye and supply orbicularis oculi: they may also supply muscles innervated by the buccal branch. Twigs communicate with filaments of the lacrimal nerve and the zygomaticofacial branch of the maxillary nerve.

The buccal branch is usually single. It has a close relationship to the parotid duct for about 2.5 cm after emerging from the parotid gland, and typically lies below the duct. Superficial branches run beneath the subcutaneous fat and superficial musculo-aponeurotic system (SMAS). Some branches pass deep to procerus and join the infratrochlear and external nasal nerves. Upper deep branches supply zygomaticus major and levator labii superioris, and form an infraorbital plexus with the superior labial branches of the infraorbital nerve. They also supply levator anguli oris, zygomaticus minor, levator labii superioris alaequae nasi and the small nasal muscles: these branches are sometimes described as lower zygomatic branches. Lower deep branches supply buccinator and orbicularis oris; they communicate with filaments of the buccal branch of the mandibular nerve.

There are usually two marginal mandibular branches. They run forwards towards the angle of the mandible under platysma, then turn upwards across the body of the mandible to pass under depressor anguli oris. The branches supply risorius and the muscles of the lower lip and chin, and filaments communicate with the mental nerve. The marginal mandibular branch has an important surgical relationship with the lower border of the mandible (see Ch. 25).

The cervical branch emerges from the lower part of the parotid gland and runs anteroinferiorly under platysma to the front of the neck. Typically single, it supplies platysma and communicates with the transverse cutaneous cervical nerve.

Cutaneous branches of the facial nerve accompany the auricular branch of the vagus; they are believed to innervate the skin on both auricular aspects, in the conchal depression and over its eminence.

Facial nerve lesions

Facial paralysis may be due to an upper motor neurone lesion (when frontalis is partially spared due to the bilateral innervation of the muscle of the upper part of the face), or a lower motor neurone lesion (when all branches may be involved). Ipsilateral lower motor neurone facial paralysis occurs in Bell's palsy and Ramsay Hunt syndrome, and may be the consequence of an acoustic neuroma, a malignant parotid tumour or, more commonly, cheek laceration. Only those muscles innervated by degenerating or demyelinating branches of the facial nerve become weak.

The facial nerve is routinely isolated as part of a superficial parotidectomy operation – typically in the treatment of parotid tumours – when that part of the gland lying superficial to the plane of the facial nerve is removed. Although all branches of the facial nerve are preserved, there is often some postoperative facial weakness caused by bruising and ischaemia of the nerve which may result in temporary demyelination of the nerve fibres. Although this can affect all the branches of the facial nerve, the weakness is often confined to the territory innervated by the marginal mandibular branch and is manifested by a weakness of the lower lip on the affected side. This is because anastomotic arcades between the marginal mandibular branch and other branches of the facial nerve are relatively rare, whereas they are plentiful between the various branches of the temporofacial division and the buccal branch of the cervicofacial division of the facial nerve.



Theme 2. 8-th cranial nerve


The peripheral process of first neurons terminates in spiral organ and the central process neurons form cochlear part of VІІІ cranial nerve. It passes through the internal auditory meatus into cranial cavity, where terminates by synapse with second neuron. The bodies of second neurons of cochlear nerve are found in anterior and posterior cochlear nucleus in lateral recess of rhomboid fossa. Axons of second neurons form fascicles having a name trapezoid body. These fibres terminate partly in superior olivar nucleus. One from posterior cochlear nucleus form striae medullaris of fourth ventricle.

The vestibulo-cochlear nerve consists of two distinct sets of fibers which differ in their peripheral endings, central connections, functions, and time of medullation. It is soft in texture and devoid of neurilemma.

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Diagrammatic longitudinal section of the cochlea.


Cochlear Nerve.—The cochlear nerve or root, the nerve of hearing, arises from bipolar cells in the spiral ganglion of the cochlea, situated near the inner edge of the osseous spiral lamina. The peripheral fibers pass to the organ of Corti. The central ones pass down the modiolus and then through the foramina of the tractus spiralis foraminosus or through the foramen centrale into the lateral or outer end of the internal auditory meatus. The nerve passes along the internal auditory meatus with the vestibular nerve and across the subarachnoid space, just above the flocculus, almost directly medialward toward the inferior peduncle to terminate in the cochlear nucleus.

  The cochlear nerve is placed lateral to the vestibular root. Its fibers end in two nuclei: one, the accessory nucleus, lies immediately in front of the inferior peduncle; the other, the tuberculum acusticum, somewhat lateral to it.




  The striæ medullares (striæ acusticæ) are the axons of the cells of the tuberculum acusticum. They pass over the inferior peduncle, and across the rhomboid fossa to the median sulcus. Here they dip into the substance of the pons, to end around the cells of the superior olivary nuclei of both sides. There are, however, other fibers, and these are both direct and crossed, which pass into the lateral lemniscus. The cells of the accessory nucleus give origin to fibers which run transversely in the pons and constitute the trapezium. Of the trapezoid fibers some end around the cells of the superior olivary nucleus or of the trapezoid nucleus of the same or opposite side, while others, crossed or uncrossed, pass directly into the lateral lemniscus.

  If the further connections of the cochlear nerve of one side, say the left, be considered, it is found that they lie lateral to the main sensory tract, the lemniscus, and are therefore termed the lateral lemniscus. The fibers comprising the left lateral lemniscus arise in the superior olivary and trapezoid nuclei of the same or opposite side, while others are the uninterrupted fibers already alluded to, and these are either crossed or uncrossed, the former being the axons of the cells of the right accessory nucleus or of the cells of the right tuberculum acusticum, while the latter are derived from the cells of the left nuclei. In the upper part of the lateral lemniscus there is a collection of nerve cells, the nucleus of the lateral lemniscus, around the cells of which some of the fibers arborize and from the cells of which axons originate to continue upward the tract of the lateral lemniscus. The ultimate ending of the left lateral lemniscus is partly in the opposite medial geniculate body, and partly in the inferior colliculi. From the cells of these bodies new fibers arise and ascend in the occipital part of the internal capsule to reach the posterior three-fifths of the left superior temporal gyrus and the transverse temporal gyri.


Vestibular Nerve.—The vestibular nerve or root, the nerve of equilibration, arises from bipolar cells in the vestibular ganglion, ganglion of Scarpa, which is situated in the upper part of the outer end of the internal auditory meatus. The peripheral fibers divide into three branches: the superior branch passes through the foramina in the area vestibularis superior and ends in the utricle and in the ampullæ of the superior and lateral semicircular ducts; the fibers of the inferior branch traverse the foramina in the area vestibularis inferior and end in the saccule; the posterior branch runs through the foramen singulare and supplies the ampulla of the posterior semicircular duct.




The vestibulocochlear nerve emerges from the cerebellopontine angle (see Fig. 19.3). It courses through the posterior cranial fossa to enter the petrous temporal bone via the internal acoustic meatus, where it divides into an anterior trunk, the cochlear nerve, and a posterior trunk, the vestibular nerve (Fig. 37.12A; see Fig. 27.8). Both contain the centrally directed axons of bipolar neurones, together with a smaller number of efferent fibres that arise from brain stem neurones and terminate on cochlear and vestibular sensory cells. In humans, the intratemporal portion of the vestibulocochlear nerve consists of two histologically distinct portions: a central glial zone adjacent to the brain stem, and a peripheral or non-glial zone (Bridger & Farkashidy 1980). In the glial zone the axons are supported by central neuroglia, whereas in the non-glial zone they are ensheathed by Schwann cells. The non-glial zone extends into the cerebellopontine angle medial to the internal acoustic meatus in more than 50% of human vestibulocochlear nerves. During development, a gap of several weeks has been reported between the onset of Schwann cell myelination distally and glial myelination proximally: it has been suggested that the gap may coincide with the time of the final maturation of the organ of Corti. (For further details about the development of the human cochlear nerve see Ray et al 2005.)

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Fig. 37.12 The vestibulocochlear nerve (human). A, Transverse section. The cochlear nerve (comma-shaped profile on the left) abuts the inferior division of the vestibular nerve (right). The singular nerve is a separate fascicle between the superior and inferior divisions of the vestibular nerve. B, A portion of a vestibular ganglion, showing neuronal perikarya, myelinated axons and small blood vessels.
(Toluidine blue stained resin sections by courtesy of H Felix, M Gleeson and L-G Johnsson, ENT Department, University of Zurich and School of Medicine, King's College London.)

In audiological practice, it is important to distinguish between intratemporal and intracranial lesions. However, this surgical distinction does not correlate with the precise anatomical description of peripheral and central portions of the auditory and vestibular systems. Clinically, the term ‘peripheral auditory lesion’ is used to describe lesions peripheral to the spiral ganglion, and the term ‘peripheral vestibular disturbance’ includes lesions of the vestibular ganglion and the entire vestibular nerve.

Vestibular nerve

The cell bodies of the bipolar neurones that contribute to the vestibular nerve lie in the vestibular ganglion, which is situated in the trunk of the nerve within the lateral end of the internal auditory meatus (Fig. 37.12B). Their peripheral processes innervate the maculae of the utricle and saccule and the ampullary crests of the semicircular canals (see below). Their axons travel to the CNS in the vestibular nerve, which enters the brain stem at the cerebellopontine angle, and terminates in the vestibular nuclear complex. Neurones in this complex project to motor nuclei in the brain stem and upper spinal cord, and to the cerebellum and thalamus. Thalamic efferent projections pass to a cortical vestibular area which is probably located near the intraparietal sulcus in area 2 of the primary somatosensory cortex.

Vestibular (Scarpa's) ganglion

The cell bodies of the neurones in the vestibular ganglion vary considerably in size: their circumferences range from 45 to 160 μm (Felix et al 1987). No topographically ordered distribution relating to size has been found. The cell bodies are notable for their abundant granular endoplasmic reticulum, which in places forms Nissl bodies, and prominent Golgi complexes. They are covered by a thin layer of satellite cells and are often arranged in pairs, closely abutting each other so that only a thin layer of endoneurium separates the adjacent coverings of satellite cells. This arrangement has led to speculation that ganglion cells may affect each other directly by electrotonic spread (ephaptic transmission: see Felix et al 1987).

Two distinct sympathetic components have been identified in the vestibular ganglion: a perivascular adrenergic system derived from the stellate ganglion, and a blood vessel-independent system derived from the superior cervical ganglion.

Intratemporal vestibular nerve

The peripheral processes of the vestibular ganglion cells are aggregated into definable nerves, each with a specific distribution. The main nerve divides at and within the ganglion into superior and inferior divisions, which are connected by an isthmus. The superior division, the larger of the two, passes through the small holes in the superior vestibular area at the fundus of the internal acoustic meatus (Fig. 37.4) and supplies the ampullary crests of the lateral and anterior semicircular canals via the lateral and anterior ampullary nerves, respectively. A secondary branch of the lateral ampullary nerve supplies the macula of the utricle; however, the greater part of the utricular macula is innervated by the utricular nerve, which is a separate branch of the superior division. Another branch of the superior division, Voit's nerve, supplies part of the saccule.

The inferior division of the vestibular nerve passes through small holes in the inferior vestibular area (Fig. 37.4) to supply the remainder of the saccule and the posterior ampullary crest via saccular and singular branches, respectively; the latter passes through the foramen singulare. Occasionally, a very small supplementary or accessory branch innervates the posterior crest; it is probably a vestigial remnant of the crista neglecta, an additional area of sensory epithelium found in some other mammals but seldom in man.

Afferent and efferent cochlear fibres are also present in the inferior division of the vestibular nerve, but leave at the anastomosis of Oort to join the main cochlear nerve (see review by Warr 1992). Another anastomosis, the vestibulofacial anastomosis, is situated more centrally between the facial and vestibular nerves, and is the point at which fibres originating in the intermediate nerve pass from the vestibular nerve to the main trunk of the facial nerve.

There are approximately 20,000 fibres in the vestibular nerve of which 12,000 travel in the superior division and 8000 travel in the inferior division. The distribution of fibre diameters is bimodal, with peaks at 4 μm and 6.5 μm. The smaller fibres go mainly to the type II hair cells and the larger fibres tend to supply the type I hair cells. In addition to the afferents, efferent and autonomic fibres have been identified. Efferent fibres synapse exclusively with the afferent calyceal terminals around type I cells and usually with the afferent boutons on type II cells, although a few are in direct contact with the cell bodies of type II cells. The autonomic fibres do not contact vestibular sensory cells, but terminate beneath the sensory epithelia.

Anatomy of balance and posture

The vestibular labyrinths on each side of the head are arranged symmetrically with respect to each other. Vestibular sensory pathways are concerned with perception of the position of the head in space and movement of the head; they also establish important connections for reflex movements that govern the equilibrium of the body and the fixity of gaze.

The vestibular system consists of two otolithic organs, the utricle and the saccule, and three semicircular canals. The otolithic organs detect linear acceleration due to gravitational pull (gravitoinertial acceleration) and the direction of other linear accelerations such as the up and down movements of the head that occur in running. They also respond when the head is tilted relative to gravity, so called pitch (forward and backward tilting) and roll (side-to-side tilting) movements. The semicircular canals detect angular accelerations resulting from rotations of the head or body.

The stereocilia in the apical hair bundles of the mechanosensitive hair cells in each of these organs are embedded in an overlying accessory gel-like structure, the otolithic membrane (in the utricle and the saccule) and the cupula (in the semicircular canals). Their apical surfaces are bathed in endolymph: tight junctional complexes between the apices of the hair cells and their adjacent supporting cells separate the endolymph from the perilymph that bathes their basolateral surfaces. Deflection of the stereocilia (caused by displacements of their overlying accessory membranes by fluid movements in the membranous labyrinth) produces either an increased or decreased rate of opening of the mechanotransduction channels at their tips, depending on whether they are deflected towards or away from the tallest row respectively. The change in the membrane potential of the receptor cell is signalled to the brain as a change in the firing frequency of the vestibular nerve afferents (either an increase or a decrease of the basal resting discharge, depending on the direction of stimulation). The signals are compared centrally with visual and somatosensory signals, which also signal the position of the head in space (for a more detailed account, see Furness 2002).

Semicircular canals

Angular acceleration and deceleration of the head cause a counterflow of endolymph in the semicircular canals, which deflects the cupola of each crista and bends the stereociliary/kinociliary bundles. When a steady velocity of head movement is reached, the endolymph rapidly adopts the same velocity as the surrounding structures because of friction with the canal walls, so that the cupula and receptor cells return to their resting state. The three semicircular canals are orientated at right angles to each other, which means that all possible directions of acceleration can be detected. Directional sensitivity to head movement is coded by opposing receptor signals: the left and right semicircular canals of each functional pair (e.g. the left and right superior canals), respond oppositely to any movement of the head that affects them (Fig. 37.13). Some vestibular neurones receive a bilateral input from vestibular receptors, which means that they can compare the discharge rates of right and left canal afferents, a mechanism that increases the sensitivity of the system.

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Fig. 37.13 Response of the horizontal semicircular canals to head rotation in the horizontal plane. The firing rates of afferents from the left and right horizontal canals are equivalent at rest (A). However, when the head is turned to the right (B) or to the left (C), receptor depolarization and afferent fibre excitation occurs on the side to which the head turns; there is inhibition on the contralateral side.


In the maculae, the weight of the otoconial crystals creates a gravitational pull on the otoconial membrane and thus on the stereociliary bundles of the sensory cells which are inserted into its base. Because of this, they are able to detect the static orientation of the head with respect to gravity. They also detect shifts in position according to the extent to which the stereocilia are deflected from the perpendicular. The two maculae are set at right angles to each other, and the cells of both maculae are orientated functionally in opposite directions across their striolar boundaries. Movement causes depolarization of the hair cells on one side of the striola and hyperpolarization of cells on the other side; because the striola is curved, small groups of hair cells on the macular epithelium each respond to a specific direction of head tilt or linear acceleration (Fig. 37.14). Moreover, because the otoconia have a collective inertia/momentum, linear acceleration and deceleration along the anteroposterior axis can be detected by the lag or overshoot of the otoconial membrane with respect to the epithelial surface, and so the saccular macula is able to signal these changes of velocity.

Fig. 37.14 Head tilt is encoded by a macular map of directional space. These diagrams depict the responses of the utricular maculae to head tilt. Firing rates in the vestibular afferents that innervate receptors on either side of the striola (red and blue lines) are equivalent when the head is upright (A). When the head is tilted to the right (B) or to the left (C), the stereocilia are deflected by displaced otoconia: hair cells on the upward slope side of the striola increase their firing rate, while those on the downward slope decrease their firing rate.

The macular receptors can also be stimulated by low frequency sound which sets up vibratory movements in the otoconial membrane, although this appears to require relatively high sound levels. Efferent synapses on the afferent endings of the type I sensory cells and on the bases of type II cells receive inputs from the brain stem which appear to be inhibitory. They serve to reduce the activity of the afferent fibres either indirectly, in the case of the type I cells, or directly, for the type II cells.

Visual reflexes

The vestibular system plays a major role in the control of visual reflexes, which allow the fixation of gaze on an object in spite of movements of the head, and require the coordinated movements of the eye, neck and upper trunk. Constant adjustments of the visual axes are achieved chiefly through the medial longitudinal fasciculus, which connects the vestibular nuclear complex with neurones in the oculomotor, trochlear and abducens nuclei and with upper spinal motor neurones (Fig. 37.15; see Fig. 39.12), and also by the vestibulospinal tracts.

 Abnormal activity of the vestibular input or central connections has various effects on these reflexes, e.g. the production of nystagmus. This can be elicited by the caloric test, a clinical test of vestibular function, by syringing the external auditory meatus with water above or below body temperature, a procedure which appears to stimulate the cristae of the lateral semi-circular canal directly. Spontaneous high activity in the afferent fibres of the vestibular nerve is seen in Ménière's disease, in which those affected experience a range of disturbances including the sensation of dizziness and nausea, the latter reflecting the vestibular input to the vagal reflex pathway.

Cochlear nerve

Intratemporal cochlear nerve

The cochlear nerve connects the organ of Corti to the cochlear and related nuclei of the brain stem. The cochlear nerve lies inferior to the facial nerve throughout the internal acoustic meatus (see above). It becomes intimately associated with the superior and inferior divisions of the vestibular nerve, which are situated in the posterior compartment of the canal, and leaves the internal acoustic meatus in a common fascicle (Fig. 37.12A).

There are approximately 30–40,000 nerve fibres in the human cochlear nerve (for review, see Nadol 1988). Their fibre diameter distribution is unimodal, and ranges from 1 to 11 μm, with a peak at 4–5 μm. Functionally, the nerve contains both afferent and efferent somatic fibres, together with adrenergic postganglionic sympathetic fibres from the cervical sympathetic system.

Afferent cochlear innervation

The afferent fibres are myelinated axons with bipolar cell bodies that lie in the spiral ganglion in the modiolus (Fig. 37.2B; Fig. 37.16). There are two types of ganglion cell: most (90–95%) are large type I cells, the remainder are smaller type II cells (see reviews by Nadol 1988, Eybalin 1993). Type I cells contain a prominent spherical nucleus, abundant ribosomes and many mitochondria; in many mammals (although possibly not in humans) they are surrounded by myelin sheaths. In contrast, type II cells are smaller, always unmyelinated, and have a lobulated nucleus. The cytoplasm of type II cells is enriched with neurofilaments, but has fewer mitochondria and ribosomes than type I cells.

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Fig. 37.15 Some of the fibre components of the medial longitudinal fasciculus.


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Fig. 37.16 Transmission electron micrograph showing several type II ganglion cells and nerve fibres in a human spiral ganglion. Note the absence of myelin from the surrounding sheaths of the ganglion cells.
(By courtesy of H Felix, M Gleeson and L-G Johnsson, ENT Department, University of Zurich and GKT School of Medicine, London.)

Each inner hair cell is in synaptic contact with the unbranched peripheral processes of approximately 10 type I ganglion cells. The processes of type II ganglion cells diverge within the organ of Corti and innervate more than 10 outer hair cells. The peripheral and central processes of type I ganglion cells are relatively large in diameter and are myelinated, whereas those of type II are smaller and unmyelinated. The peripheral processes of both types of cell radiate from the modiolus into the osseous spiral lamina, where the type I axons lose their myelin sheaths before entering the organ of Corti through the habenula perforata.

Three distinct groupings of afferent fibres have been identified: inner radial, basilar and outer spiral fibres (Fig. 37.17).

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Fig. 37.17 A simplified view of the innervation of the organ of Corti (see text for further details). There is a great contrast between the convergent afferent innervation of the inner hair cells (approximately 10 fibres to each cell) and the divergent supply of the outer hair cells (one afferent fibre to 10 cells).

Inner radial fibres

The inner radial fibre group consists of the majority of afferent fibres. They run directly in a radial direction to the inner hair cells, each of which receives endings from several of these fibres.

Basilar fibres

Basilar fibres are afferent to the outer hair cells and take an independent spiral course, turning towards the cochlear apex near the bases of the inner hair cells. They run for a distance of about five pillar cells before turning radially again and crossing the floor of the tunnel of Corti, often diagonally, to form part of the outer spiral bundle.

Outer spiral bundles

The afferent fibres of the bundles of the outer spiral group course towards the basal part of the cochlea, continually branching off en route to supply several outer hair cells. The outer spiral bundles also contain efferent fibres (see below).

Efferent cochlear fibres

The efferent nerve fibres in the cochlear nerve are derived from the olivocochlear system (see reviews by Warr 1992, Guinan 1996). Within the modiolus, the efferent fibres form the intraganglionic spiral bundle, which may be one or more discrete groups of fibres situated at the periphery of the spiral ganglion (Fig. 37.17). There are two main groups of olivocochlear efferents: lateral and medial. The lateral efferents come from small neurones in and near the lateral superior olivary nucleus and arise mainly, but not exclusively, ipsilaterally. They are organized into inner spiral fibres that run in the inner spiral bundle before terminating on the afferent axons that supply the inner hair cells. The medial efferents originate from larger neurones in the vicinity of the medial superior olivary nucleus, and the majority arise contralaterally. They are myelinated and cross the tunnel of Corti to synapse with the outer hair cells mainly by direct contact with their bases, although a few synapse with the afferent terminals. The efferent innervation of the outer hair cells decreases along the organ of Corti from cochlear base to apex, and from the first (inner) row to the third. The efferents use acetylcholine, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), or both as their neurotransmitter. They may also contain other neurotransmitters and neuromodulators.

Activity of the medial efferents inhibits cochlear responses to sound: the strength of the activity grows slowly with increasing sound level. They are believed to modulate the micromechanics of the cochlea by altering the mechanical responses of the outer hair cells thus changing their contribution to frequency selectivity and sensitivity. The lateral efferents related to the inner hair cells also respond to sound. They appear to modify transmission through their postsynaptic action on inner hair cell afferents. The cholinergic fibres may excite the radial fibres, while those containing GABA may inhibit them, although their role is less well understood than that of the medial efferents (see review by Guinan 1996).

Autonomic cochlear innervation

Autonomic nerve endings appear to be entirely sympathetic. Two adrenergic systems have been described within the cochlea: a perivascular plexus derived from the stellate ganglion and a blood vessel-independent system derived from the superior cervical ganglion. Both systems travel with the afferent and efferent cochlear fibres and seem to be restricted to regions away from the organ of Corti. The sympathetic nervous system may cause primary and secondary effects in the cochlea by remotely altering the metabolism of various cell types and by influencing the blood vessels and nerve fibres with which it makes contact.

Anatomy of hearing

Sounds waves entering the external ear are converted into electrical signals in the cochlear nerve by the peripheral auditory system (Fig. 37.18). The axons in the cochlear nerve constitute the auditory component of the vestibulocochlear nerve and terminate in the dorsal and ventral cochlear nuclei: onward connections make up the ascending (central) auditory pathway.

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Fig. 37.18 The principal activities of the peripheral auditory apparatus. For clarity, the cochlea is depicted as though it had been uncoiled, but it is normally coiled as in the inset. Different sound frequencies differentially excite different regions of the cochlea, the specific locations being given in kHz from 0.1 to 20 kHz in humans. Note that the frequency map is logarithmic, so that each decade occupies an equivalent distance on the basilar membrane. The components are drawn roughly to scale for the human ear, in which the cochlea is 35 mm in length. The points of maximal stimulation of the basilar membrane by high frequency and low frequency vibrations, together with their transmission pathways through the external and middle ear, are also indicated.

Peripheral auditory system

Vibrations in the air column in the external acoustic meatus cause a comparable set of vibrations in the tympanic membrane and auditory ossicles. The chain of ossicles acts as a lever which increases the force per unit area at the round window by 1.2 times while the reduction in size of the round window compared with the tympanic membrane increases the force per unit area of the oscillating surface a further 17 times. This overcomes the inertia of the cochlear fluids and produces in them pressure waves that are conducted almost instantaneously to all parts of the basilar membrane. The latter varies continuously in width, mass and stiffness from the basal to the apical end of the cochlea. Each part of the basilar membrane vibrates, but only the region tuned to a specific frequency will respond maximally to a pure tone entering the ear. A wave of mechanical motion, the travelling wave, is propagated along the basilar membrane to the position where it responds maximally and then dies away again. With increasing frequency, the locus of maximum amplitude moves progressively from the apical to the basal end of the cochlea. The pattern of vibrations in the basilar membrane thus varies with the intensity and frequency of the acoustic waves reaching the perilymph. Because of the arrangement of the hair cells on the basilar membrane, these oscillations generate a largely transverse shearing force between the outer hair cells and the overlying tectorial membrane (in which the apices of the hair cell stereocilia are embedded). This movement depends on the mechanical properties of the entire organ of Corti, including its cytoskeleton, which stiffens this structure. The inner hair cell stereocilia, which probably do not touch the tectorial membrane although they come very close to it, are likely to be stimulated by local movements of the endolymph. Displacement of the stereociliary bundle of a hair cell activates mechanoelectrical transduction (MET) ion channels near the tips of its stereocilia, and this allows potassium and calcium ions from the endolymph to enter the hair cell (see overviews by Fettiplace 2002, Fettiplace & Hackney 2006). This induces a depolarizing receptor potential and the release of neurotransmitter onto the cochlear afferents at the base of the cell. In this way a specific group of auditory axons is activated at the position of maximal basilar membrane vibration.

The mechanical behaviour of the basilar membrane is responsible for a rather broad discrimination between different frequencies (passive tuning, see overview by Ashmore 2002), but fine frequency discrimination in the cochlea appears to be related to physiological differences between the hair cells. Individual tuning of hair cells may result from differences in shape, stereociliary length, or possibly variations in the molecular composition of sensory membranes, and may have a role in cochlear amplification (active tuning).

The activity of the outer hair cells appears to play an important part in regulating inner hair cell sensitivity at specific frequencies. Outer hair cells can change length when stimulated electrically at frequencies of many thousands of cycles per second. The rapidity of these changes in length indicates a novel type of motile mechanism, which is believed to depend on conformational changes in proteins located in the plasma membrane of the cells (see Fettiplace & Hackney 2006) (Fig. 37.19). When the membrane potential of the outer hair cells changes, they generate forces along their axes. When the mechanoelectrical transduction channels open, they are thought to oppose the viscous forces which tend to damp down the vibration of the cochlear partition, and adjust the mechanics of the organ of Corti on a cycle-by-cycle basis. Alternatively they may alter the mechanics of the partition more slowly under the influence of the efferent pathway.

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Fig. 37.19 The putative motors of outer hair cells. Outer hair cells can generate force, mechanically boosting sound-induced vibrations of the hair bundle and augmenting frequency tuning. Two mechanisms have been advanced to explain this cochlear amplifier: the somatic motor and the hair bundle motor. A, In the resting state, Cl− ions are bound to prestin molecules in the lateral membrane of the hair cell. When force is applied to the hair bundle, the cell is depolarized, the Cl− ions dissociate and the prestin changes conformation, reducing its area in the plane of the membrane and shortening the hair cell body (the somatic motor). Adaptation of mechanoelectrical transduction (MET) channels, which are activated by bending of the stereocilia at their tapered base, also causes the hair bundle to produce extra force in the direction of the stimulus (the hair bundle motor). The amplitudes of the hair bundle movements have been exaggerated to illustrate the concept. B, The effects of the somatic motor (blue arrows) on the organ of Corti mechanics, which leads to downward motion of the reticular lamina (the upper surface of the organ of Corti) and a negative deflection of the hair bundle. This is a negative feedback pathway, as a positive deflection of the hair bundle causes outer hair cell depolarization, cell contraction and opposing motion of the bundle. (See Fettiplace & Hackney 2006.)

At a particular frequency, an increase in the intensity of stimulus is signalled by an increase in the rate of discharge in individual cochlear axons. At greater intensities it is signalled by the number of activated cochlear axons (recruitment).

The respective roles of the two groups of hair cells have been much debated, particularly since differences in their innervation and physiological behaviour have become apparent. Because of their rich afferent supply, inner hair cells are believed to be the major source of auditory signals in the cochlear nerve. Some evidence for this view is based on the finding that animals treated with antibiotics that are specifically toxic to outer hair cells are still able to hear, but their sensitivity and frequency discrimination is impaired.

Some electrical responses of the cochlea can be recorded with extracellular electrodes. The most significant is the endolymphatic potential, a steady potential recordable between the cochlear duct and the scala tympani, which is caused by the different ionic compositions of their fluids. As the resting potential of hair cells is approximately 70 mV (negative inside) and the endolymphatic potential is positive in the cochlear duct, the total transmembrane potential across the apices of hair cells is 150 mV. This is a greater resting potential than is found anywhere else in the body, and provides the driving force for mechanotransduction and for the cochlear amplifier.

Under stimulation by sound, a rapid oscillatory cochlear microphonic potential can be recorded. It matches the frequency of the stimulus and movements of the basilar membrane precisely, and appears to depend on fluctuations in the conductance of hair cell membranes, probably of the outer hair cells. At the same time, an extracellular summating potential develops, a steady direct current shift related to the (intracellular) receptor potentials of the hair cells. Cochlear nerve fibres then begin to respond with action potentials which are also recordable from the cochlea. Intracellular recording of auditory responses from inner hair cells has confirmed that these cells resemble other receptors: their steady receptor potentials are related in size to the amplitude of the acoustic stimulus. At the same time, afferent axons are stimulated by synaptic action at the bases of the inner hair cells. They fire more rapidly as the vibration of the basilar membrane increases in amplitude, up to a threshold that depends on the sensitivity of the specific nerve fibre involved. Each inner hair cell is contacted by axons with response thresholds that range from 0 decibels sound pressure level (dBSPL), the approximate threshold of human hearing, to those which respond to intensities in excess of 100 dBSPL; the loudest sound tolerable is around 120 dBSPL. Each axon responds most sensitively to the frequency represented by its particular cochlear location, its characteristic frequency (Fig. 37.18).

Central auditory pathway

The primary afferents of the auditory pathway arise from cell bodies in the spiral ganglion of the cochlea. The axons travel in the vestibulocochlear nerve, which enters the brain stem at the cerebellopontine angle. Afferent fibres bifurcate, and terminate in the dorsal and ventral cochlear nuclei (Fig. 37.20). The dorsal cochlear nucleus projects via the dorsal acoustic stria to the contralateral inferior colliculus. The ventral cochlear nucleus projects via the trapezoid body or the intermediate acoustic stria to relay centres in either the superior olivary complex, the nuclei of the lateral lemniscus, or the inferior colliculus. The superior olivary complex is dominated by the medial superior olivary nucleus which receives direct input from the ventral cochlear nucleus on both sides, and is involved in localization of sound by measuring the time difference between afferent impulses arriving from the two ears.

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Fig. 37.20 The main features of the human ascending auditory pathway. A, A series of sections showing that ipsilateral and commissural connections occur at most levels in this system. The major connections are shown by the thicker arrows; thinner arrows denote less heavy projections. B, The main stations of the auditory pathway.

The inferior colliculus consists of a central nucleus and two cortical areas. The dorsal cortex lies dorsomedially, and the external cortex lies ventromedially. Secondary and tertiary fibres ascend in the lateral lemniscus. They converge in the central nucleus, which projects to the ventral division of the medial geniculate body of the thalamus. The external cortex receives both auditory and somatosensory input. It projects to the medial division of the medial geniculate body, and, together with the central nucleus, also projects to olivocochlear cells in the superior olivary complex and to cells in the cochlear nuclei. The dorsal cortex receives an input from the auditory cortex and projects to the dorsal division of the medial geniculate body (see Ch. 21). Connections also run from the nucleus of the lateral lemniscus to the deep part of the superior colliculus, to coordinate auditory and visual responses.

The ascending auditory pathway crosses the midline at several points both below and at the level of the inferior colliculus. However, the input to the central nucleus of the inferior colliculus and higher centres has a clear contralateral dominance: during the initial stages of cortical auditory processing, both hemispheres respond most strongly to the contralateral ear. The medial geniculate body is connected reciprocally to the primary auditory cortex, which lies in the posterior half of the superior temporal gyrus and also dives into the lateral sulcus as the transverse temporal gyri (Heschl's gyri) (see Ch. 23). Secondary areas of the auditory cortex are located in an adjacent belt region, and other regions of auditory association cortex have been described in a parabelt region beyond the secondary cortex.

The corpus callosum, particularly the posterior third of the body, contains auditory interhemispheric fibres that originate from the primary and second auditory cortices. Asymmetries of minicolumn number in primary and association auditory regions have been correlated with axonal fibre numbers in the subregions of the corpus callosum through which they project (Chance et al 2006).

The presence of tonotopic gradients in the primary auditory cortex is well established in animals and in humans. Hemispheric differences for frequency selectivity (i.e. the ability of the cochlea to separate the acoustic frequencies along its length like an acoustic prism) and tonotopic organization have been reported, for example, the right hemisphere appears to be most responsive to acoustic sound features such as pitch, whereas the left hemisphere seems to be more involved in processing temporal dynamics such as the phonological aspects of speech. Morphological asymmetries favouring the left hemisphere in the planum temporale and Heschl's gyri have been correlated with left hemispheric dominance for language functions, but a direct link between structure and function has not been clearly established: studies often show relative rather than absolute differences in hemispheric specialization for particular attributes.

The transformation of the physical characteristics of sound into ‘auditory objects’ is thought to occur in the transition from primary to secondary auditory cortex. (For a critical perspective on auditory objects, see Griffiths & Warren 2004.)


Hearing impairment is the most common disabling sensory defect in humans. Two causes of deafness are usually distinguished: conductive hearing loss and sensorineural hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss may result from trauma to the external or middle ears, blockage of the external auditory meatus, or disruption of the tympanic membrane (e.g. by intense sounds or extreme pressure changes) (Ch. 36). It may also result from chronic inflammation of the tympanic membrane (e.g. by a cholesteatoma, which may also damage the ossicles); from an infection of the middle ear (otitis media with effusion), which produces a fluid build-up in the normally air-filled middle ear and so impedes the movements of the ossicles; or from otosclerosis, an inappropriate thickening of bone around the footplate of the stapes.

Sensorineural hearing loss is the most prevalent form of hearing impairment. It refers to loss or damage of the sensory hair cells or their innervation. The sensory cells of the inner ear are particularly vulnerable to mechanical trauma produced by high intensity noise and to changes in their physiological environment caused by infection or hypoxia. Changes in their ionic environment rapidly lead to degenerative processes that result in hair cell loss, often by apoptosis, and produce either hearing loss or vestibular dysfunction. These changes can be induced by drugs such as the aminoglycoside antibiotics, some diuretics, and certain anticancer drugs. A decrease in cochlear sensitivity, presbyacusis, almost invariably occurs with age: hair cells at the high frequency end of the cochlea tend to be lost first. At least 60% of hearing loss may have a genetic basis, a significant proportion may be non-syndromic, and most of these genes are inherited in an autosomal recessive mode.

Ménière's disease is a distressing disorder of the inner ear characterized by episodes of hearing loss, tinnitus and vertigo. Histological examination of an affected ear reveals endolymphatic hydrops (swelling of the endolymphatic spaces), suggesting poor drainage of the endolymph via the endolymphatic sac.

Surgical approaches to the inner ear

The inner ear may be approached surgically from various directions. The promontory that overlies the basal turn of the cochlea and the oval window may be opened via the middle ear (after elevating the tympanic membrane). The lateral semicircular canal may be opened via the aditus (after widening the bony external acoustic meatus and removing the incus). The arcuate eminence may be opened to give access to the anterior semicircular canal via the floor of the middle cranial fossa. The posterior semicircular canal may be opened deep to the mastoid segment of the facial (Fallopian) canal via the mastoid process (after drilling away the overlying air cells). All of these approaches are usually reserved for destructive operations on the labyrinth to treat intractable vertigo.

The round window niche and its membrane may be approached via a posterior tympanotomy. In this procedure, the mastoid air cells are removed to allow access to the bony triangle bounded above by the fossa of incus, superficially by the chorda tympani, and deeply by the descending portion of the facial nerve. This bone is drilled away carefully to expose the facial recess of the tympanic cavity and the round window niche. Using this access, the stimulating electrode of a multichannel intracochlear implant can be passed into the scala tympani of the cochlea so that it lies against the spiral lamina and can stimulate the adjacent fibres of the cochlear nerve.

The endolymphatic sac may be approached after exenteration of the mastoid air cells by elevating the cortical bone of the anterolateral wall of the posterior cranial fossa, anterior to the sigmoid venous sinus and posterior to the posterior semicircular canal (below a line extended from the axis of the lateral semicircular canal). Access to the sac is required in some operations that aim to control vertigo secondary to Ménière's disease.

The internal acoustic meatus may be approached, at a cost to hearing, by drilling away the entire bony labyrinth via the posterior cranial fossa (after craniectomy in the occipital region and retraction of the cerebellum), or via the middle cranial fossa (after a temporal craniotomy and retraction of the dura of the middle fossa and the temporal lobe). These approaches are usually used to access tumours of the cerebellopontine angle and internal acoustic meatus.

Theme 3. 9-th cranial nerve


IX Glossopharyngeal nerve is mixed nerve, which has a nucleus ambiguous (motor), nucleus of the tractus solitarius (sensory) and inferior salivatory nucleus (parasympathetic) in rhomboid fossa. Sensory fibers start from a superior and inferior ganglia in region of the jugular foramen. Glossopharyngeal nerve reaches the tongue root, where divides by final branches rr. linguales, that innervating mucous membrane the posterior third of the tongue.

Glossopharyngeal nerve gives off the following branches:

1.  Tympanic nerve (mixed) passes through tympanic canalicule and enters into tympanic cavity. Here its sensory branches together with caroticotympanic nerves (sympathetic) form tympanic plexus which innervate mucous membrane of the tympanic cavity and auditory tube (r. tubarius). The parasympathetic preganglionic fibers start from inferior salivatory nucleus, exite from tympanic cavity through hyatus nervi petrosi minoris as lesser petrosal nerve. Last passes in sulcus and enters into otic ganglion. Postganglionic fibres provide a secretory innervation of parotid salivary glands.

2.  Pharyngeal branches pass to lateral wall of the pharynx, where together with branches of vagus nerve and sympathetic trunk form pharyngeal plexus. Last provides innervating of the muscles and mucous membrane of the throat.

3.  Tonsillar branches pass to mucous membrane of the palatine tonsils and palatal arches.

4.  Branch of stylopharyngeal muscle.

5.  Branch of carotid sinus, innervating the receptors of carotid glomus and sinus.

6.  Communicating branch with the auricular branch of vagus nerve.

The glossopharyngeal nerve (791, 792, 793) contains both motor and sensory fibers, and is distributed, as its name implies, to the tongue and pharynx. It is the nerve of ordinary sensation to the mucous membrane of the pharynx, fauces, and palatine tonsil, and the nerve of taste to the posterior part of the tongue. It is attached by three or four filaments to the upper part of the medulla oblongata, in the groove between the olive and the inferior peduncle.

  The sensory fibers arise from the cells of the superior and petrous ganglia, which are situated on the trunk of the nerve, and will be presently described. When traced into the medulla, some of the sensory fibers, probably sympathetic afferent, end by arborizing around the cells of the upper part of a nucleus which lies beneath the ala cinerea in the lower part of the rhomboid fossa. Many of the fibers, probably the taste fibers, contribute to form a strand, named the fasciculus solitarius, which descends in the medulla oblongata. Associated with this strand are numerous nerve cells, and around these the fibers of the fasciculus end. The somatic sensory fibers, few in number, are said to join the spinal tract of the trigeminal nerve.

Описание: image791

Plan of upper portions of glossopharyngeal, vagus, and accessory nerves.


  The somatic motor fibers spring from the cells of the nucleus ambiguus, which lies some distance from the surface of the rhomboid fossa in the lateral part of the medulla and is continuous below with the anterior gray column of the medulla spinalis. From this nucleus the fibers are first directed backward, and then they bend forward and lateralward to join the fibers of the sensory root. The nucleus ambiguus gives origin to the motor branches of the glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves, and to the cranial part of the accessory nerve.

  The parasympathetic efferent fibers from the nucleus beneath the ala cinerea, the dorsal nucleus, are probably both preganglionic motor fibers and preganglionic secretory fibers of the parasympathetic system. The secretory fibers pass to the otic ganglion and from it secondary neurons are distributed to the parotid gland. Some authors describe these fibers as arising from a distinct nucleus the inferior salivatory nucleus, which lies near the dorsal nucleus.

  From the medulla oblongata, the glossopharyngeal nerve passes lateralward across the flocculus, and leaves the skull through the central part of the jugular foramen, in a separate sheath of the dura mater, lateral to and in front of the vagus and accessory nerves (792). In its passage through the jugular foramen, it grooves the lower border of the petrous part of the temporal bone; and, at its exit from the skull, passes forward between the internal jugular vein and internal carotid artery; it descends in front of the latter vessel, and beneath the styloid process and the muscles connected with it, to the lower border of the Stylopharyngeus. It then curves forward, forming an arch on the side of the neck and lying upon the Stylopharyngeus and Constrictor pharyngis medius. Thence it passes under cover of the Hyoglossus, and is finally distributed to the palatine tonsil, the mucous membrane of the fauces and base of the tongue, and the mucous glands of the mouth.

  In passing through the jugular foramen, the nerve presents two ganglia, the superior and the petrous.

  The Superior Ganglion (ganglion superius; jugular ganglion) is situated in the upper part of the groove in which the nerve is lodged during its passage through the jugular foramen. It is very small, and is usually regarded as a detached portion of the petrous ganglion.

  The Petrous Ganglion (ganglion petrosum; inferior ganglion) is larger than the superior and is situated in a depression in the lower border of the petrous portion of the temporal bone.

Описание: image792

Upper part of medulla spinalis and hind- and mid-brains; posterior aspect, exposed in situ.



Branches of Communication.—The glossopharyngeal nerve communicates with the vagus, sympathetic, and facial.

  The branches to the vagus are two filaments which arise from the petrous ganglion, one passing to the auricular branch, and the other to the jugular ganglion, of the vagus. The petrous ganglion is connected by a filament with the superior cervical ganglion of the sympathetic. The branch of communication with the facial perforates the posterior belly of the Digastricus. It arises from the trunk of the glossopharyngeal below the petrous ganglion, and joins the facial just after the exit of that nerve from the stylomastoid foramen.


Branches of Distribution.—The branches of distribution of the glossopharyngeal are: the tympanic, carotid, pharyngeal, muscular, tonsillar, and lingual.

  The Tympanic Nerve (n. tympanicus; nerve of Jacobson) arises from the petrous ganglion, and ascends to the tympanic cavity through a small canal on the under surface of the petrous portion of the temporal bone on the ridge which separates the carotid canal from the jugular fossa. In the tympanic cavity it divides into branches which form the tympanic plexus and are contained in grooves upon the surface of the promontory. This plexus gives off: (1) the lesser superficial petrosal nerve; (2) a branch to join the greater superficial petrosal nerve; and (3) branches to the tympanic cavity, all of which will be described in connection with the anatomy of the middle ear.

  The Carotid Branches (n. caroticotympanicus superior and n. caroticotympanicus inferior) descend along the trunk of the internal carotid artery as far as its origin, communicating with the pharyngeal branch of the vagus, and with branches of the sympathetic.

  The Pharyngeal Branches (rami pharyngei) are three or four filaments which unite, opposite the Constrictor pharyngis medius, with the pharyngeal branches of the vagus and sympathetic, to form the pharyngeal plexus; branches from this plexus perforate the muscular coat of the pharynx and supply its muscles and mucous membrane.

  The Muscular Branch (ramus stylopharyngeus) is distributed to the Stylopharyngeus.

  The Tonsillar Branches (rami tonsillares) supply the palatine tonsil, forming around it a plexus from which filaments are distributed to the soft palate and fauces, where they communicate with the palatine nerves.

Описание: image793

Course and distribution of the glossopharyngeal, vagus, and accessory nerves.


  The Lingual Branches (rami linguales) are two in number; one supplies the papillæ vallatæ and the mucous membrane covering the base of the tongue; the other supplies the mucous membrane and follicular glands of the posterior part of the tongue, and communicates with the lingual nerve.