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facial nerve[′fā·shəl ‚nərv]
(nervus facialis), the seventh pair of cranial nerves; a mixed nerve containing motor and sensory nerve fibers.
The nuclei of the facial nerve lie in the pons varolii. The conductors connected to these nuclei form the trunk of the facial nerve, which passes through the internal auditory meatus and the pyramid of the temporal bone to emerge from the cranial cavity through the stylomastoid foramen. The nerve divides into its terminal branches in the parotid gland.
The facial nerve’s motor conductors innervate the mimetic musculature, the stylohyoid muscle, the posterior venter of the digastric muscle, and the subcutaneous muscle of the neck. Its autonomic fibers innervate the salivary glands, the lacrimal glands, and the glands of the mucosae of the nasal cavity, palate, and upper pharynx. Its sensory fibers provide the gustatory innervation of the anterior two-thirds of the tongue. The autonomic and sensory fibers of the facial nerve in the vicinity of the brain stem form the nervus intermedius, the largest branch of which is called the chorda tympani. The most frequent pathology of the facial nerve is paralysis.