2-Minute Neuroscience: Trigeminal Nerve (Cranial Nerve V)
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  • Release Date: 2024-04-03
  • nerve
  • sensory nerve
  • sensation
  • pain
  • muscles
Video Introduction

The content is sourced from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhbQBrX3Kq0

The trigeminal nerve (cranial nerve V) is the main sensory nerve of the head, and carries information about touch, pain, temperature, and proprioception from the face and head. It also has motor functions, which include controlling the muscles of mastication (chewing). In this video, I discuss the anatomy and function of the trigeminal nerve, as well as describe what can happen when the nerve is damaged.[1][2]


The trigeminal nerve is the main sensory nerve of the head. It carries information about touch, pain, temperature, and proprioception, or the awareness of the position of muscles and joints. It also controls the muscles involved with chewing, as well as the tensor tympani, a small muscle in the middle ear that helps to dampen the sound of loud noises, and the tensor veli palatini, a muscle that both helps prevent food from entering the nasopharynx during swallowing and opens a small tube called the eustachian tube, which connects the upper throat with the middle ear. This helps to equalize pressure between the middle ear and outside air.

The trigeminal nerve has three divisions, the ophthalmic, maxillary, and mandibular divisions, which supply three different regions of the head and face as seen in the image. The ophthalmic and maxillary divisions carry sensory information, while the mandibular division has sensory and motor components. 

There are three sensory nuclei and a motor nucleus associated with the trigeminal nerve. They form a column of cells that reaches from the midbrain of the brainstem to the upper spinal cord. The main sensory nucleus receives information from the head about touch and proprioception. The spinal trigeminal nucleus receives information about pain and temperature sensations. The mesencephalic nucleus receives proprioceptive information from the jaw and teeth to prevent damage while biting and chewing. The motor nucleus controls the muscles of chewing and other muscles mentioned earlier.

Damage to the trigeminal nerve or its associated nuclei can cause varying levels of abnormal sensation. The patient may experience decreased sensation, increased pain, and/or weakening of the muscles of chewing. Trigeminal nerve damage can also lead to a condition called trigeminal neuralgia, in which patients experience short but intense bouts of facial pain. 

  1. Vanderah TW, Gould DJ. Nolte's The Human Brain. 7th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016.
  2. Walker HK. 1990. Cranial Nerve V: The Trigeminal Nerve. In: Walker HK, Hall WD, Hurst JW, eds. Clinical Methods: The History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations, 3rd ed. Boston: Butterworths
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Challenged, N. 2-Minute Neuroscience: Trigeminal Nerve (Cranial Nerve V). Encyclopedia. Available online: https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1146 (accessed on 25 May 2024).
Challenged N. 2-Minute Neuroscience: Trigeminal Nerve (Cranial Nerve V). Encyclopedia. Available at: https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1146. Accessed May 25, 2024.
Challenged, Neuroscientifically. "2-Minute Neuroscience: Trigeminal Nerve (Cranial Nerve V)" Encyclopedia, https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1146 (accessed May 25, 2024).
Challenged, N. (2024, April 03). 2-Minute Neuroscience: Trigeminal Nerve (Cranial Nerve V). In Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.pub/video/video_detail/1146
Challenged, Neuroscientifically. "2-Minute Neuroscience: Trigeminal Nerve (Cranial Nerve V)." Encyclopedia. Web. 03 April, 2024.
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