How Do We Hear?

The major task of the ear is to detect, transmit and transduce sound (such as changing it from a mechanical vibration to a neural impulse.) The inner ear also assists in maintaining our sense of balance and motion.

The best way to describe the functioning of the ear is to describe the path which the sound waves take on their way through the ear. In the video you can see the journey of the sound waves through the ear.

Sound travels to the outer ear and in through the auditory canal, causing the eardrum, or tympanic membrane, to vibrate. This causes the three small bones known as the malleous, incus and the stapes in the middle ear to move. These middle ear bones together are referred to as the ossicular chain. The vibrations move via the oval window through the fluid in the cochlea in the inner ear, stimulating thousands of tiny hair cells also called stereocilia . This results in the transformation of the vibrations into electrical impulses finally perceived by the brain as sound.

The ear consists of many small parts, but can be divided into three major parts:

The Outer Ear

The Middle Ear

The Inner Ear

Categories: How Hearing Works