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Your weekly reference question

Does it take more muscles to frown than to smile?


The saying that it takes more muscles to frown than to smile has seemingly been around forever. In fact, the saying has been around for so long that no one seems to be able to figure out exactly what its origins are.

Further muddying the waters on this question is the fact that there seems to be a lot of disagreement as to the numbers of muscles it takes to smile or to frown. The number of muscles to smile ranges anywhere from four to 20, while the number of muscles to frown ranges from 20 to 100.

Some of these numbers can not be true. For example, an article from Psychology Today states that there are 44 muscles in the face. Other sources list up to 53 muscles in the face. Either way, it means that it would be impossible to use 100 muscles to frown.

Some light has been shed on the entire quandary by Dr. David H. Song, a plastic surgeon as well as Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Hospitals. As someone whose livelihood is wrapped up in the reconstruction of faces, he knows about facial muscles.

It is his contention that when counting all the muscles it takes to smile and all the muscles it takes to frown, that it actually takes one more muscle to smile than it does to frown. He lists 12 muscles to smile, but only 11 muscles to frown.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 31, 2008 12:58 PM.

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