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The Hypoglossal Nerve



The Hypoglossal Nerve is the twelfth of the Twelve Cranial Nerves. The fibers consist of Efferent Motoric and Afferent Sensory fibers. The word Afferent means toward the centre, as in from a peripheral area of a limb to the central nervous system. The word Efferent is the opposite of Afferent, meaning away from the centre and toward the periphery; when the stimulus is carried back to the brain from a peripheral area.

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Hypoglossal nerve

The pathway for the Efferent motoric fibers of the Hypoglossal nerve is the following (from the initiation in the brain to the termination in the periphery):

Hypoglossal nerve

The pathway for the Afferent sensory fibers of the Hypoglossal Nerve is the following (from the initiation in the periphery to the termination in the brain):

  • The Afferent fibers start just inside the Hypoglossal Canal in the meninges and as they exit the skull as a small side branch that merges with the Hypoglossal Nerve, crossing over the Efferent Motoric Fibers and run parallel with them until the merger of the cervical spinal branch C1.
  • At the fork of C1 and the Hypoglossal Nerve, the afferent sensory fibers wrap around the C1 fibers coming in and run back up the cervical spinal nerve, synapsing upon one of the spinal ganglia that are wedged between the cervical vertebrae.
  • They then proceed postganglionically into the very top of the spinal cord just under the brainstem and into an Ascending Spinal Tract.
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Show references


  • Frank H. Netter, Atlas der Anatomie, 5th Edition (Bilingual Edition: English and German), Saunders, Chapter 1, Plate 96, 114-115 and 127, published 2010.


  • Dr. Alexandra Sierosławska


  • Hypoglossal nerve - Yousun Koh 
  • Hypoglossal nerve - Yousun Koh 
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