Intramuscular Electrical Stimulation of Facial Muscles in Humans and Chimpanzees: Duchenne Revisited and Extended

August 2006


The pioneering work of Duchenne (1862/1990) was replicated in humans using intramuscular electrical stimulation and extended to another species (Pan troglodytes: chimpanzees) to facilitate comparative facial expression research. Intramuscular electrical stimulation, in contrast to the original surface stimulation, offers the opportunity to activate individual muscles as opposed to groups of muscles. In humans, stimulation resulted in appearance changes in line with Facial Action Coding System (FACS) action units (AUs), and chimpanzee facial musculature displayed functional similarity to human facial musculature. The present results provide objective identification of the muscle substrate of human and chimpanzee facial expressions—data that will be useful in providing a common language to compare the units of human and chimpanzee facial expression.