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Muscles of the head

Other Terms: Facial muscles, Muscle group of face, Set of facial muscles, Set of muscles of face, Musculi faciei, Muscles de la face


The muscles of the head perform a wide variety of functions and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some of these muscles are the smallest muscles of the body, others have the highest ratio of neuron to muscle fibers in the body, and others can generate more force per unit area than any other muscle. They perform functions that range from chewing food to manipulating speech, from moving the eyes to creating the wide variety of facial expressions, and they even modify the strength of the sound waves approaching the inner ear. These interesting muscles arise from two distinct developmental programs in the embryo — the branchial, or pharyngeal, arches and the head somites. Each of these embryonic tissues has an associated cranial nerve. As the embryonic muscle mass develops to its final postnatal group of muscles, each of these muscles is innervated by the same nerve that innervated the embryonic muscle primordium. While, the embryonic somites are the principal source of skeletal muscle tissue in the majority of the body, they contribute to a smaller extent to the formation of the skeletal muscles of the head. The majority of the head muscles arise from the branchial arches. Regardless of their origin, however, all the head muscles are innervated by cranial nerves that formed developmental associations with the muscle’s embryonic tissue of origin.


Musculi faciei


Muscles de la face


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