The glossopharyngeal nerve is a pair of nerves that is part of 24 cranial nerves. These nerves are arranged in twelve pairs, of which the glossopharyngeal is the ninth. The pairs of cranial nerves, in order, are the olfactory, optic, oculomotor, trochlear, trigeminal, abducens, facial, vestibulocochlear, glossopharyngeal, vagus, accessory, and hypoglossal. The nerve connects to the brainstem from the upper medula, travelling through the base of the skull at the jugular foramen, and ending in the mouth in the mucous glands, palatine tonsil, and the base of the tongue. It splits into various branches: the tonsillar, tympanic, stylopharyngeal, carotid sinus nerve, lingual, communication branch to the vagus, and to the posterior third of the tongue. The glossopharyngeal nerve has many functions, including receiving various forms of sensory fibres from parts of the tongue, carotid body, the tonsils, the pharynx, and the middle ear. It also supplies parasympathetic fibres to the parotid gland and motor fibres to the stylopharyngeus muscle, and aids the pharyngeal plexus along with the vagus nerve.
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In Depth: Glossopharyngeal nerve