How does the human ear work? The parts of our ear turn sound waves into vibrations which are then translated into nerve messages that are sent to our brain. For someone who wants to learn how does the human ear work, diagrams of the ear and articles about how the parts of the ear work can be helpful. Here is an overview of how the human ear works.
In general, sound travels into the ear from the external ear. The external ear, or outer ear, is the part of the ear that is visible plus the ear canal. Sound enters the ear through the outer ear and travels to the eardrum. Blockages of the ear canal can stop sound waves from reaching the eardrum. Hearing loss caused by sound not being able to travel to the inner ear is called conductive hearing loss.
The sound waves cause the eardrum, also called the tympanic membrane, to vibrate. These vibrations pass to the middle ear. Injury to the eardrum that prevents the vibrations from passing to the middle ear causes conductive hearing loss. The middle ear has three tiny, bony structures that pass the vibrations to the inner ear. These tiny parts of the middle ear are called the ossicles. The three bony structures are called the hammer, anvil, and stirrup.
The cochlea, semi-circular canals, and auditory nerve make up the inner ear. The outside of the inner ear is called the bony labyrinth. Sound vibrations are delivered by a part of the middle ear called the stapes through a round window of the bony labyrinth.
The inner ear is filled with perilymph fluid, similar to intercellular fluid. Hair-like cell projections in the cochlea pick up the vibrations in the fluid. The inner ear translates the vibrations into nerve messages that are delivered to the auditory nerve which rests at the base of the cochlea.
The auditory nerve, named the “eighth nerve“, carries these messages to the brain. If there is hearing loss due to the inability of the inner ear to pass information to the auditory nerve or damage to the auditory nerve, the hearing loss is called sensorineural hearing loss.
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