Based on its anatomical relationships, the lateral pterygoid muscle is strongly linked with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It plays a major role in mastication. Embryological, histological, and anatomical knowledge define the lateral pterygoid muscle as a single muscle with a penniform structure. The various results of electromyographic (EMG) studies describe a complex physiology with a chronological contraction of the layers during the masticatory cycle. The sequential contraction of the layers of the lateral pterygoid muscle is the result of a selective neuronal activation induced by the masticatory Central Pattern Generator (mCPG). This neurophysiological theory highlights the essential role of the reticular formation in oral motor control. The sensitivity of those neurological structures to chronic emotional stress is one of the possible explanations for the appearance of oral parafunctions accompanied by a modification of pain perception and a disorganized muscular activation, determining factors in temporomandibular disorders.
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