New Insights From Embryology And New Classification Of The Cranial Nerve Components

Studies of embryological development, most within the past decade and including the work of LeDouarin, Gilland and Baker, Noden and colleagues, Northcutt, Gans, and others, require several changes to our treatment of cranial nerves. Two additional cranial nerves need to be recognized in humans—a terminal nerve (T) and an epiphyseal nerve (E)—and the two diencephalic cranial nerves (E and II) can be classified as neural tube afferent (NTA). The traditional classification of cranial nerve components needs to be revised and simplified. The distinctions between the "general" and "special" categories can now be eliminated, and the components of spinal nerves and most cranial nerves can be reduced to the four simple categories of somatic afferent (SA), visceral afferent (VA), somatic efferent (SE), and visceral efferent (VE). The branchial motor nerves form a subset of the SE column since the branchial muscles are derived from the same mesodermal source as are the extraocular muscles and the muscles of the tongue.

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