Anatomy and Physiology
Muscles of Mastication

Master Muscles of Mastication with Picmonic for Anatomy and Physiology

With Picmonic, facts become pictures. We've taken what the science shows - image mnemonics work - but we've boosted the effectiveness by building and associating memorable characters, interesting audio stories, and built-in quizzing.

Muscles of Mastication

Recommended Picmonics

picmonic thumbnail
Neck and Shoulder Muscles
picmonic thumbnail
Anterior Thorax Muscles
picmonic thumbnail
Back Muscles
picmonic thumbnail
Pathways through the Diaphragm
picmonic thumbnail
Hand Muscles

Muscles of Mastication

Muscles used for Chewing
There are four main muscles of mastication. Three muscles used to adduct the jaw, or bite down/elevate mandible; the temporalis, masseter and medial pterygoid. The main muscle of jaw abduction is the lateral pterygoid.

The temporalis is one of the main muscles of mastication. It is a broad, fan-shaped muscle on each side of the head that fills the temporal fossa, superior to the zygomatic arch, so it covers much of the temporal bone. The temporalis derives from the first pharyngeal arch in development and, as with the other muscles of mastication, control of the temporal muscle comes from the third (mandibular) branch of the trigeminal nerve.


The masseter is the most obvious muscle of mastication since it is the most superficial and one of the strongest. The action of the muscle during bilateral contraction of the entire muscle is to elevate the mandible, raising the lower jaw. Elevation of the mandible occurs during the closing of the jaws. The masseter parallels the actions of the medial pterygoid muscle, but it is stronger.

Medial Pterygoid
Metal Pterodactyl

The medial pterygoid is a thick, quadrilateral muscle of mastication. It is innervated by the mandibular branch of the fifth cranial nerve, the trigeminal nerve. Its actions include elevation of the mandible (closes the jaw), protrusion of the mandible, and assistance in mastication.

Lateral Pterygoid
Ladder Pterodactyl

Unlike the other three muscles of mastication, the lateral pterygoid is the only muscle that assists in depressing the mandible (opening the jaw). The mandibular branch of the fifth cranial nerve, the trigeminal nerve, innervates the lateral pterygoid muscle.

Mandibular Branch (V3) of Trigeminal Nerve
Mandible-man with V3 Tri-gem Branch

The mandibular branch of the fifth cranial nerve, the trigeminal nerve, innervates the muscles of mastication.

1st Branchial Arch
(1) Wand Branching Arch

These muscles have a shared embryological origin and are derived from the first pharyngeal arch in development.


Take the Muscles of Mastication Quiz

Picmonic's rapid review multiple-choice quiz allows you to assess your knowledge.

It's worth every penny

Picmonic for Anatomy and Physiology Covers

160+ Videos
1,000+ Facts

*Average video play time: 2-3 minutes

Search for a specific Video or category now!
Or create your own Picmonic

Our Story Mnemonics Increase Mastery and Retention

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Unforgettable characters with concise but impactful videos (2-4 min each)

Memorize facts with phonetic mnemonics

Ace Your Anatomy and Physiology Classes & Exams with Picmonic:

Over 1,890,000 students use Picmonic’s picture mnemonics to improve knowledge, retention, and exam performance.

Choose the #1 Anatomy and Physiology student study app.

Picmonic for Anatomy and Physiology covers information that is relevant to your entire Anatomy and Physiology education. Whether you’re studying for your classes or getting ready to conquer , we’re here to help.

Works better than traditional Anatomy and Physiology flashcards.

Research shows that students who use Picmonic see a 331% improvement in memory retention and a 50% improvement in test scores.