Notes on Glossopharyngeal Nerve

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Mixed motor and sensory.

1. General visceral efferent (parasympathetic): Parotid gland secretion (secretomotor fibres).

2. General visceral afferent: Tongue (posterior third) and pharynx sensation (sensory fibres).

3. Special visceral efferent: Innervation of stylopharyngeus muscle.

4. Special visceral afferent: Taste function.


(Shares 4 nuclei with the vagus and accessory nerve - two motory and two sensory).

1. Nucleus ambiguous (parasympathetic to heart, branchial muscles i.e. stylopharyngeus, constrictors, intrinsic muscles of the larynx, levator vela palatini).

2. Inferior salivary nucleus.

3. Nucleus of the tractus solitarius (taste, respiratory, baroreceptors, etc).

4. Sensory nucleus of the trigeminal nerve.


Exits from the brain via 3 or 4 rootlets sited at the lateral aspect of the lateral portion of the medulla between the olive and inferior cerebellar peduncle; passes through the jugular foramen of the skull. Enters pharynx by passing down between the superior and middle pharyngeal constrictor.

Glossopharyngeal Ganglia:

Sited in the nerve as it passes through the foramen.


1. Communicating from inferior ganglion to superior cervical ganglion of the sympathetic chain, auricular of vagus, and superior ganglion of the vagus.

2. Meningeal.

3. Tympanic (from inferior ganglion) (Jacobson): communicates with the facial nerve and continues as the lesser (superficial) petrosal nerve. Ends in otic ganglion to relay in the parotid gland.

4. Pharyngeal: supplies mucous membrane of the oro-pharynx. Together with filaments of the vagus and laryngopharyngeal branches of the sympathetic they form the pharyngeal plexus.

5. Sino-carotid (carotid sinus) - pressor receptors and carotid body - chemoreceptors).

6. Motory: Stylo-pharyngeus.

7. Tonsillar: tonsil, oro-pharyngeal isthmus and soft palate.

8. Lingual: posterior third of tongue, vallate papillae.

Summary of Innervation:

1. Sensory (sensation) pharyngeal, oropharyngeal, isthmus and tonsil mucous membranes.

2. Motory: stylopharyngeus.

3. Taste: posterior third of tongue.

4. Secretomotor: parotid gland, mucous glands of pharynx.

Further Topics on Cranial Nerves:

1. Introduction to Cranial Nerves
2. Notes on Olfactory Nerve CN 1
3. Notes on Optic Nerve CN 2
4. Notes on Oculomotor Nerve CN 3
5. Notes on Trochlear Nerve CN 4
6. Notes on Trigeminal Nerve CN 5
7. Notes on Abducens Nerve CN 6
8. Notes on Facial Nerve CN 7
9. Notes on Vestibulocochlear Nerve CN 8
10. Notes on Glossopharyngeal Nerve CN 9
11. Notes on Vagus Nerve CN 10
12. Notes on Accessory Nerve CN 11
13. Notes on Hypoglossal Nerve CN 12
14. Summary of Cranial Nerve Nuclei
15. Summary of Cranial Nerve Functions

Additional Reading:

Basic Neurology

1. Peripheral Nervous System
2. Central Nervous System
3. The Ventricular System
4. The Spinal Cord
5. The Brain Stem
6. The Cerebellum
7. Visual Pathways
8. Diencephalon
9. Basal Ganglia
10. Cerebral Cortex
11. Sleep Disorders
12. Autonomic Nervous System
13. Cranial Nerves and Parasympathetic Ganglia
14. Cells of the Nervous System
15. Cerebrospinal fluid
16. Additional short notes on Cerebrum
17. Functions and Diseases of Cerebrum
18. Subcortical Grey Matter
19. Notes on The Spinal Cord
20. Regulation of Heart Rate by Autonomic Nervous System
21. Action Potentials, Axon Conduction, and Neuromuscular Junction
22. Types of Seizures
23. What is a Cough Reflex?
24. Notes on Congenital Prosopagnosia
25. Findings in Parkinson's Disease
26. Types of Heat Strokes
27. Types of Strokes
28. What is Benign Intracranial Hypertension?
29. What is Cauda Equina Syndrome?
30. Cranial Nerve Locations in Brain Stem
31. What is a Cluster Headache?
32. What is a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage?
33. What is a Tension Headache?

Neurology Videos

1. Video of Neurology Examination in a Clinical Setting

Medical Images

Useful Medical Images & Diagrams (link opens in a new window)

Related Topics

1. Nervous System Disorders
2. Histology of Nervous Tissue
3. Cranial Nerve Reflexes
4. Motor System Examination

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