How The Ear Works

Your ears are advanced, very sensitive organs which detect and analyze sound and help you maintain your sense of balance.

The ear has three main parts:

Each one performs a specific function in a process which allows sound waves to enter the ear and to be transformed into electrical impulses that the brain can understand.

(Sidebar Diagram)

How Hearing Works

  1. The outer ear catches and directs sound waves into the ear canal.
  2. The ear canal carries the sound waves to the eardrum.
  3. Sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate.
  4. The bones in the middle ear pick up these vibrations.
  5. Vibrations pass through to the cochlea, setting the fluid inside this structure into motion. Special hair cells in the cochlea turn the sound waves into electrical impulses.
  6. The auditory nerve sends these electrical impulses to the brain where they are heard as sound.
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