Three Twins ~ Don’t mix up the 2Ts in your Cranial Nerves

Oh. Oh. Oh. TO. TOUCH. And. Feel….

…Alright, I’m not going to go there, I’ve already made a fart joke this week… there is no need for more inappropriate mnemonics. Those in a healthcare profession know the one for remembering the order of Cranial Nerves. For those not familiar, lets back up a few steps:

The Cranial Nerves are 12 pairs of nerves that emerge directly from the brain (as opposed to the spinal cord) and like many memorization tasks, medically minded students look for easy ways to remember lists. So, we’ve ended up with mnemonics (feel free to google or create your own) that give us this order:

I. O (Olfactory)
II. O (Optic)
III. O (Occulomotor)
IV. T (Trochlear)
V. T (Trigeminal)
VI. A (Abducens)
VII. F (Facial)
VIII. V (Vestibulocochlear)
IX. G (Glossopharyngeal)
X. V (Vagus)
XI. A (Accessory or Spinal Accessory)
XII. H (Hypoglossal)

I can ramble off that list of letters in my SLEEP (PT students can you ramble it off and remember the tests?) For some reason though, I sometimes mix up those two Ts, CN IV and CN V. Then as always, I worked back to the root of the words and realized it is SO SIMPLE, check it out:


Cranial Nerve Five (CNV)= Trigeminal

“Trigeminal” = Tri (meaning 3) and -geminus (meaning twins, ie gemini)

5 = 3 +2

This makes further sense when you realize that The Trigeminal nerve has three branches pairs of branches (or three sets of twins…), noted below in the green, blue, and red:


Happy Studying my friends!

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