12 Cranial Nerves Quick Reference Card and Mneumonic: OOOTTAFVGVAH

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© 2007-2019 by Zack Smith. All rights reserved.

12 Cranial Nerves

As part of learning how the brain's 12 cranial nerves are organized, you'll have to learn the names and functions of each. Luckily, a simple mneumonic device has been devised to help students of anatomy and later courses such as neurology to memorize them. It's crude but it helps.

But first, what is the sequence? The twelve nerves are: OOOTTAFVGVAH, meaning:

  1. Olfactory nerve
  2. Optic nerve
  3. Oculomotor nerve
  4. Trochlear nerve
  5. Trigeminal nerve
  6. Abducens nerve
  7. Facial nerve
  8. Vestibulocochlear nerve
  9. Glossopharyngeal nerve
  10. Vagus nerve
  11. Accessory nerve
  12. Hypoglossal nerve

So, what's the mneumonic?

There are several, but here are two non-bawdy ones:

On old Olympus towering top a famous vocal German viewed some hops.

Oh! Oh! Oh! to touch and feel very green vegetables AH!.

Nerve# and name Direction Function Area Mneumonic
1. olfactory nerve sensory smell Forebrain on
2. optic nerve sensory vision Forebrain old
3. oculomotor nerve mixed eye movements Midbrain Olympus
4. trochlear nerve mixed eye movements Midbrain towering
5. trigeminal nerve mixed chewing Hindbrain top
6. abducens nerve mixed eye movements Hindbrain a
7. facial nerve mixed facial muscle movements; saliva & tear production; taste Hindbrain famous
8. vestibulocochlear nerve mixed hearing & balance Hindbrain vocal
9. glossopharyngeal nerve mixed taste Hindbrain German
10. vagus mixed slows the heart rate and digestive peristalsis Hindbrain viewed
11. [spinal] accessory mixed swallowing; movements of head & shoulders Hindbrain some
12. hypoglossal mixed tongue movement; swallowing Hindbrain hops