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Question about cranial nerves

Nick Medford nick at hermit0.demon.co.uk
Sun Dec 5 13:45:08 EST 1999

In article <82dtls$l10$1 at nnrp1.deja.com>, c_thomas_wild at my-deja.com
>In article <38459B4F.955DE0E6 at sault.com>,
>  chibear at SAULT.COM (Christine Berry) wrote:
>> HI -
>>   Today in my anatomy and physiology class me and my prof. were
>> discussing how we had heard of a 13th cranial nerve ; however neither
>> one of us could remember the name or function of it. Could anyone
>> fill me in. I have looked in many text books to no avail.
>> Thankyou !  My e-mail address is:  nodrunner at hotmail.com
>There are only 12 pairs of cranial nerves in a human being.  If one
>were to add a 13th, it could be the reticular formation of the brain
>stem (the RAS and RIS/Reticular Activating System-Reticular Inhibiting

Why would one want to select any structure and label it as "the 13th cranial
nerve" when the concept has no meaning?

>which regulates the ability to pay attention.
>  The reticular
>formation is closely associated with being awake/being
>asleep/consciousness and in many ways is the essence of life itself.

Extra! Extra! "Essence of life" revealed on bionet.neuroscience! Major
philosophical breakthrough!

One could just as easily argue that the prefrontal cortex, or the heart, or
lungs, or kidneys, or oxygen, or water, is the "essence of (human) life itself".
And the statement would be just as meaningless.

>The reticular formation is associated with a number of different
>neurological challenges including petit mal, absence, and the
>ADHD/ADD/Hyperactivity syndrome.  The 12 pairs of cranial nerves tend
>to plug into the reticular formation of the brain stem so to speak, as
>I recall.

They "tend" to "plug in" to it?? What are you on about?

c_thomas: It's clear that you know a little about brain structure and
function. It's also clear that you are trying to stretch that knowledge a lot
further than it will go. I think this newsgroup and others like it would
benefit tremendously if people didn't pose as authorities on topics they know
only a little about. 

When people here discuss (for example) lab-based molecular neuroscience, I
wouldn't pretend to be an authority. Molecular science is not what I do, not
what I know. I read the comments of others (like Matt Jones) and hope to
learn something useful. When the discussion turns to human neuroanatomy
and medical neuro/psych issues, I feel able to contribute, because this is the
stuff I know about. I notice that none of the really serious contributors to
this group shoot their mouths (keyboards?) off when the topic is not
something they know. I hope the point is clear without my having to spell it

I have no problem with anyone and everyone using this forum- I have never
been in favour of making it a moderated group, as some have in the past.
But let's be honest about ignorance as well as expertise.

There I feel better now.
Nick Medford

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