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Vestibulocochlear nerve (CN VIII)

Learning objectives

This study unit will help you to:

  1. Discuss the divisions of the vestibulocochlear nerve; namely the vestibular and cochlear nerves.
  2. Learn about the anatomical course of the vestibulocochlear nerve.
  3. Understand the anatomy and function of the cochlear and vestibular nuclei.

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The vestibulocochlear nerve, also known as the 8th cranial nerve (CN VIII) is a sensory nerve that consists of two divisions: the vestibular and cochlear nerves. The function of the vestibulocochlear nerve is to provide special somatic afferent (SSA) innervation of the internal ear, with each division serving a specific role:

  • The vestibular nerve conveys information from the vestibular apparatus of the internal ear to the vestibular nuclei in the pons and brainstem in order to maintain balance, spatial orientation and coordination
  • The cochlear nerve is part of the auditory pathway, conveying auditory information from the cochlea of the internal ear to the cochlear nuclei in the brainstem in order to enable the sense of hearing

Watch our video tutorial to find out more about the nuclei, course and branches of the vestibulocochlear nerve!

If you need to recall the inner ear anatomy, have a look at the video tutorial below:

Take a quiz

Solidify your knowledge with our quiz about the anatomy and function of the vestibulocochlear nerve.

Ready to also tackle the rest of the 12 cranial nerves? Then give our customizable quiz a try!

Browse atlas

Analyze the components of the vestibulocochlear nerve thoroughly through our gallery:

Key points

Key points about the vestibulocochlear nerve (CN VIII)
Structure and features Fibers: Special sensory afferent nerve (SSA)
: Pontomedullary junction/cerebellopontine angle
Enters skull
: Internal acoustic meatus

Associated nuclei:
Vestibular nerve: Superior vestibular nucleus (of Bechterew), lateral vestibular nucleus (of Deiters), inferior vestibular nucleus (of Roller), medial vestibular nucleus (of Schwalbe)
Cochlear nerve: Anterior and posterior cochlear nuclei

Associated ganglia:
Vestibular nerve: Vestibular ganglion (receives the inputs from the utricular, saccular, lateral, anterior and posterior ampullary nerves)
Cochlear nerve: Spiral ganglion (receives the inputs from the spiral organ (of Corti))
Function Vestibular nerve: Transmits information about motion and position of the head to maintain balance and equilibrium
Cochlear nerve: Transmits auditory information/enables the sense of hearing

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