Updated 12 February 2016

The Cranial Nerves Song

Keen to learn all about the cranial nerves? The Cranial Nerves song is the perfect way for medical students to remember the 12 cranial nerves.


The Cranial Nerves song covers the 12 pairs of cranial nerves and their functions and is used by medical students the world over to help them learn the cranial nerves.

Students use the lyric sheet and pay attention to the tips listed at the top of the lyric sheet ad different instruments are used to represent different nerves along with colour coding.

Lisa Jones Bromfield & William M. Bromfield of explain how to use the song to learn the cranial nerves:

There are 2 sections to this song. The first describes cranial nerve function and the second section describes ways to test the functions of the cranial nerves.

Some cranial nerves can be tested in ways other than those mentioned here.

Here are the tools for this song: In the first section, the ends of the verses use an alternate melody to give you another association: one of the melodies accompanies all of the odd numbered nerves and the other melody accompanies all of the even numbered nerves.

Effort has also been made to use rhymes that will help you associate the number with the function.

Sensory functions are printed in red and motor functions are printed in green. Lastly, there are different instruments highlighted for each nerve – the instrument used for each nerve begins with the same letter as the nerve.

They are as follows: Olfactory Nerve: Oboe Facial Nerve: Flute Optic Nerve: Orchestra Vestibulocochlear Nerve: Violin Occulomotor Nerve: Organ Glossopharyngeal Nerve: Guitar Trochlear Nerve: Trumpet Vagus Nerve: Vibes Trigeminal Nerve: Timpani (drums) Accessory Nerve: Applause Abducens Nerve: Accordion Hypoglossal Nerve: Harpsichord.

You can get the full lyric sheet from Anatomyphysiologystudyguide

Listen to the song and see how much you can learn:


The cranial nerves song [Internet]. 2011. Youtube; [updated 2011 Nov 30, cited 2012 May 4]. Available from:



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