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Nucleus ambiguus

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Brain: Nucleus ambiguus
The cranial nerve nuclei schematically represented; dorsal view. Motor nuclei in red; sensory in blue.
Nuclei of origin of cranial motor nerves schematically represented; lateral view.
Latin '
Gray's subject #187 779
Part of
BrainInfo/UW hier-762
MeSH [1]

The nucleus ambiguus (literally "ambiguous nucleus") is a region of histologically disperse cells located just dorsal (posterior) to the inferior olivary nucleus in the lateral portion of the upper (rostral) medulla. This nucleus gives rise to the efferent motor fibers of the vagus nerve (CN X) terminating in the laryngeal and pharyngeal muscles, as well as to the efferent motor fibers of the glossopharyngeal nerve (CN IX) terminating in the stylopharyngeus.

The muscles supplied by the vagus (included with this is the cranial part of the accessory nerve), such as levator veli palatini, are also necessary to swallow properly. The vagus also supplies the upper part of the oesophagus, and other parts of the pharynx and larynx.

As well as motor functions, nucleus ambiguus also contains the preganglionic neurons for the heart.

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