Head and Neck

The head and neck have quite a few muscles that assist with everyday processes.

The neck has a variety of muscles in the posterior and anterior portions.  The posterior neck has four pairs of suboccipitals that rotate and flex the head.  The sternocleidomastoid muscle originates on the anterior portion of the body and inserts into the back of the head.  It flexes and rotates the neck.  There’s a bone in the anterior portion of the neck called the hyoid bone, which assists with swallowing.  The suprahyoid, infrahyoid, and retrohyoid attach to the hyoid bone and elevate or depress the bone during swallowing.  The scalenes in front of the neck, flex and rotate the neck.

The face consists of various muscles that move the face and help with eating.  The masseter, on the cheek, closes the jaw and is the strongest muscle in males and second strongest in females (the uterus is the strongest muscle in females).  The temporalis, on the side of the head, elevates the jaw.  The lateral pterygoid, in the cheek, opens the mouth.  While the medial pterygoid, also in the cheek, closes the mouth.  The buccinator, on the sides of the mouth, compresses the cheek.  The zygomaticus, diagonally from mouth to cheek, elevates mouth to create a smile.  The orbicularis oris, around the mouth, closes the lips.  The obicularis oculi, is a circle around each eye, closes the eye.  The frontalis, on the forehead, raises the eyebrows.



The tongue has four intrinsic muscles, the superior and inferior longitudinal muscles, the transverse muscle, and the vertical muscle.  The genioglossus, under the tongue, helps to stick out the tongue.  The styloglossus, under the jaw near the ear, retracts and elevates the tongue.  The hypoglossus brings the tongue back down.  The palatoglossus pulls the tongue up to the back of the throat.


There are muscles throughout the ear to help information travel to the brain.  There are five different muscles that help with eye movement.  The procerus, above the nose, wrinkles the nose.  The nasalis, on the nose, flares the nostrils.