Inferior view of the human brain, with the cranial nerves labelled.
|To||Cochlear nerve, vestibular nerve|
|Anatomical terms of neuroanatomy|
Cranial nerve 8, the vestibulocochlear nerve, goes to the middle portion of the brainstem called the pons, (which then is largely composed of fibers going to the cerebellum). The 8th cranial nerve runs between the base of the pons (the middle portion of the brainstem) and medulla oblongata (the lower portion of the brainstem). This junction between the pons, medulla, and cerebellum that contains the 8th nerve is called the cerebellopontine angle. The vestibulocochlear nerve is accompanied by the labyrinthine artery, which usually branches off from the anterior inferior cerebellar artery (AICA) at the cerebellopontine angle, and then goes with the 8th nerve through the internal acoustic meatus to the internal ear.
The cochlear nerve travels away from the cochlea of the inner ear where it starts as the spiral ganglia. Processes from the organ of Corti conduct afferent transmission to the spiral ganglia. It is the inner hair cells of the organ of Corti that are responsible for activation of afferent receptors in response to pressure waves reaching the basilar membrane through the transduction of sound. The exact mechanism by which sound is transmitted by the neurons of the cochlear nerve is uncertain; the two competing theories are place theory and temporal theory.
The vestibular nerve travels from the vestibular system of the inner ear. The vestibular ganglion houses the cell bodies of the bipolar neurons and extends processes to five sensory organs. Three of these are the cristae located in the ampullae of the semicircular canals. Hair cells of the cristae activate afferent receptors in response to rotational acceleration. The other two sensory organs supplied by the vestibular neurons are the maculae of the saccule and utricle. Hair cells of the maculae in the utricle activate afferent receptors in response to linear acceleration while hair cells of the maculae in the saccule respond to vertically directed linear force.
This is the nerve along which the sensory cells (the hair cells) of the inner ear transmit information to the brain. It consists of the cochlear nerve, carrying information about hearing, and the vestibular nerve, carrying information about balance. It emerges from the pontomedullary junction and exits the inner skull via the internal acoustic meatus (or internal auditory meatus) in the temporal bone.
The vestibulocochlear nerve carries axons of type SSA, special somatic afferent, which carry the modalities of hearing and equilibrium.
Symptoms of damage
Damage to the vestibulocochlear nerve may cause the following symptoms:
- hearing loss
- false sense of motion
- loss of equilibrium (in dark places)
- motion sickness
- gaze-evoked tinnitus.
Examinations that can be done include the Rinne test and the Weber test. Rinne's test involves Rinne's Right Test and Rinne's Left Test since auditory acuity is equal in both ears. If Bone Conduction(BC) is more than Air Conduction(AC) i.e. BC>AC indicates Rinne Test is negative or abnormal. If AC>BC Rinne test is normal or positive. If BC>AC and Weber's test lateralizes to abnormal side then it is Conductive hearing loss. If AC>BC and Weber's test lateralizes to normal side then it concludes Sensorineural hearing loss.
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (February 2014)
Some older texts call the nerve the acoustic or auditory nerve, but these terms have fallen out of widespread use because they fail to recognize the nerve's role in the vestibular system. Vestibulocochlear nerve is therefore preferred by most.
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