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Head Full of Holes

by Greg Crowther,
partly inspired by "Cells" by They Might Be Giants


The brain is protected well by the bones of the cranium, yet there must be some holes for nerves and blood vessels to go through. This song goes through the visible holes for one particular view of the cranium.


Look down from above at the bones in the base of the cranium;
You'll see three cranial fossa, like shallow bowls,
And pairs of gaps and slits
Where nerves and vessels sit.
So now, from front to back, we'll name these holes.

There's cribriform foramina and optic,
Rotundum and o-VA-LE (not o-VAL),
Lacerum and spinosum, and then, in a temporal locale,
Carotid, internal acoustic, jugular,
And hypoglossal canal (...and mastoid).

Other Files


sheet music (with melody play-back)

Lesson Plan

Songs like this one can be used during class meetings and/or in homework assignments. Either way, the song will be most impactful if students DO something with it, as opposed to just listening.

An initial, simple follow-up activity could be to answer the study questions below. A more extensive interaction with the song might entail (A) learning to sing it, using an audio file and/or sheet music as a guide, and/or (B) illustrating it with pictures, bodily poses, and/or bodily movements. The latter activity could begin with students identifying the most important or most challenging content of the song, and deciding how to illustrate that particular content.

Study Questions

(1) The names of the various openings are truncated in the lyrics so that they can all be crammed into one verse. What are the full names of these openings?

(2) Which nerves or blood vessels pass through each of these openings?

(3) In looking down at the base of the cranium, you can see one hole that is much, much larger than the others. It is not listed in the song. What is the name of this extra-large hole?

(4) Some openings in the cranium are difficult or impossible to spot from the viewpoint mentioned in the song. Which opening is easiest to see from the anterior side of the skull, and allows for passage of cranial nerves III, IV, V1, and VI?

(5) Similarly, which opening may best be seen from an inferior view of the skull, and allows sounds to enter the middle ear?

(Answers may be found on the answers page.)