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Muscles of facial expression

Learning objectives:

After completing this study unit you will be able to:

  1. Name all the muscles that produce facial expressions.
  2. Identify the different groups of facial muscles.
  3. Master the attachments, innervation and functions of the facial muscles.

Watch videos

The muscles of the facial expression are a group of approximately 20 superficial skeletal muscles of the face and scalp which originate from the bony and fibrous structures of the skull and insert into the skin. These attachments give them an important role in showing emotions through facial expressions.

According to their location, these muscles are divided into 5 different groups:

  1. Buccolabial (oral) group
  2. Nasal group
  3. Orbital group
  4. Epicranial group
  5. Auricular group

This video tutorial will provide you with a detailed description of these muscles, including their attachments, innervation and functions.

Take a quiz

Now that you have watched the videos about the muscles of facial expression, test your acquired knowledge by taking our quiz that focuses specifically on these muscles.

Was that quiz too easy for you? Try our custom quiz about the head and tailor your own set of topics specifically for your level of knowledge.

Download the following PDF and learn the muscles of the facial expression!


Browse atlas

You can now observe each muscle in detail (from superior to inferior) with our image gallery.


Key points about the muscles of facial expression
Definition A group of 20 skeletal muscles located just underneath the skin of the face and scalp.
Muscles Buccolabial group: levator labii superioris, levator labii superioris alaeque nasi, risorius, levator anguli oris, zygomaticus major, zygomaticus minor, depressor labii inferioris, depressor anguli oris, mentalis, orbicularis oris and buccinator
Nasal group:
nasalis, procerus
Orbital group:
orbicularis oculi, corrugator supercilii, depressor supercilii
Epicranial group:
occipitofrontalis, temporoparietalis
Auricular group:
auricularis anterior, auricularis posterior, auricularis superior
Innervation Facial nerve (CN VII)
Blood supply  Facial artery
Function Producing movements of the face (e.g. smiling, grinning, frowning)

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