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There are over 30 muscles in the face, enabling us to make a wide range of expressions to show our emotions. It is also worth knowing that it takes twice as many muscles to frown than to smile. Facial muscles are attached to the skin, so even a small muscle movement can cause significant changes in expression.

Our facial expressions are conveyed by composite signals from several sources of our facial appearance. These sources include the general shape, orientation (pose), and position of the head, the shapes and positions of facial features (e.g., eyes, mouth), coloration and condition of the skin, shapes of wrinkles, folds, and lines, and so forth. Some of these sources are relatively fixed; others can be more changeable.

The most important source of change in the facial expression is the set of muscular movements produced by facial muscles, which provide the most substantial changes in facial appearance over short time durations and contribute most to nonverbal communication by the face.

As humans we become expert in gathering a great deal of information about the people around us from these tiny movements learning this skill from earliest infancy.

As a generalization, muscular activity contributes expressive variation on a background of more slowly changing or static expressive sources. These latter sources include the sizes, positions, and shapes of fleshy tissues, hair, teeth, cartilage, and bones.

By: Lesley-Ann Sales - Utah, United States
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