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How the Ear Works

Hearing is a complex and intricate process. The ear is made up of three sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. These parts work together so you can hear and process sounds successfully.


View How Does the Ear Work? on Howcast

The pinna (the part you can see) of the outer ear, gathers sound waves and directs them into the ear canal. These sound waves travel down the ear canal which acts like a funnel and hit the eardrum which cause the eardrum to vibrate. When the eardrum vibrates, it moves threee tiny bones in your middle ear. The middle ear is a small air-filled space between the eardrum and the inner ear. These bones form a chain and are called the hammer (or malleus), anvil (or incus), and stirrup (or stapes). The movement of these bonse transmits and amplifies the sound waves toward the inner ear.

The third bone in the chain, the stapes, interfaces with fluid which fills the hearing portion of the inner ear — the cochlea. The cochlea is lined with cells that have thousands of tiny hairs on their surfaces. As the fluid wave travels through the cochlea, it causes the tiny hairs to move. The hairs change the mechanical wave into nerve signals. The nerve signals are then transmitted to your brain, which interprets the sound.

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