Vagus nerve

Definition

noun, plural: vagus nerves

The cranial nerve that innervates the muscles of pharynx, larynx, lungs, heart, esophagus, stomach, and most of the abdominal viscera


Supplement

Cranial nerves are paired nerves that emerge from the brain and the brainstem. They supply the motor pathways between organs in the face and the upper body, and account for detecting and processing various sensations. One of the cranial nerves is the vagus nerve, which is also referred to as the tenth cranial nerve or cranial nerve X (CN X).

In humans and other vertebrates, the vagus nerve is a mixed nerve that emerges from the brainstem down to the abdomen. It is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system. The branches supply pharynx, larynx, lungs, heart, esophagus, stomach, and most of the abdominal viscera. It is associated with the sensation of taste, some visceral sensations, and certain gland secretions.

Lesions of the tenth nerve result in the loss of parasympathetic innervation of different bodily structures. For instance, damage to this nerve may lead to increased blood pressure and heart rate.


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