Abducens: cranial nerve number six; carries somatic motor impulses to the lateral rectus muscle on the lateral side of the eyeball. Also known as the abducent nerve.

From the Latin ab (away) and ducere (to lead). Named for the consequences of its action: when the nerve stimulates the lateral rectus to contract, the eyeball is abducted (i.e., turned away from the midline).

The lateral rectus muscle was once known musculus amatorius ("love muscle") because of its action in producing the alluring sidelong glances of lovers (though the contralateral medial rectus muscle is also used in this look, it's the eye that's moving laterally that gets all the attention.)

Original Oil by Don Huebner

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