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Facial nerve

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noun, plural: facial nerves

The cranial nerve that innervates the lateral rectus muscles of the face


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 facial nerve, which is also referred to as the seventh cranial nerve or cranial nerve VII (CN VII).

In humans and other vertebrates, the facial nerve is the pair of nerves that emerges from the brainstem and innervates the muscles of the face and therefore responsible for the various facial expressions. This cranial nerve also innervates the posterior belly of the digastric muscle, the stapedius muscle of the middle ear, and the stylohyoid muscle.

Lesion of the facial nerve may lead to the drooping to one side of the face (facial palsy), the inability to wrinkle the forehead, the inability to whistle, the inability to close the eye and the deviation of the mouth to the unaffected side.


  • cranial nerve VII (CN VII)
  • seventh cranial nerve

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