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Chorda tympani

Recommended video: Facial nerve [29:08]
Nuclei, course and branches of the facial nerve.

The chorda tympani is an intratemporal branch of the mastoid segment of the facial nerve (CN VII). It arises from the facial nerve within the facial canal of the temporal bone, traverses the middle ear and exits the skull through the petrotympanic fissure. It then joins the lingual nerve at an acute angle in the infratemporal fossa on its way to the anterior two-thirds of the tongue and submandibular ganglion. 

The chorda tympani carries special visceral afferent (taste) fibers from the anterior two-thirds of the tongue (foliate and fungiform papillae) and soft palate, as well as efferent preganglionic parasympathetic fibers for the submandibular ganglion, providing secretomotor innervation to the submandibular and sublingual salivary glands. Most commonly, taste fibers from the chorda tympani course to the cell bodies in the geniculate ganglion before continuing towards the brainstem via the sensory root of the facial nerve. Occasionally however, they may diverge to the otic ganglion via the greater petrosal nerve. 

Terminology English: Chorda tympani
Latin: Chorda tympani
Origin Intratemporal branch of the mastoid segment of the facial nerve (CN VII)
Supply Special visceral afferent fibers from the anterior 2/3 of tongue and soft palate, efferent parasympathetic secretomotor fibers for submandibular and sublingual glands

Learn more about the facial nerve with this study unit (and article):

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