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Pneumogastric nerve - Definition


The vagus nerve is also known as the pneumogastric, cranial X, or parasympathetic nerve. This extremely long nerve runs along each side of the body, from the skull to the abdomen, splitting into many different branches that ensure the innervation of a large number of muscles as well as different organs of the respiratory (pharynx, larynx, lungs), cardiac (heart), and digestive systems. The vagus nerve carries out many functions simultaneously: with motor control through directing involuntary muscle contraction or relaxation, and a sensory role by enabling the sensory capacity or innervated areas. It is also an important element of the autonomic or vegetative nervous system in its capacity of conveying nerve impulses governing the autonomous activities of many organs. Excessive activation of the vagus nerve can induce vasovagal syncope (non-threatening fainting).