Anatomy of the ear
The ear consists of three main parts:
- The outer ear
- The middle ear
- The inner ear
The outer ear
- The pinna collects and funnels sound into the ear canal.
- The ear canal carries sound to the eardrum, a thin membrane that separates the canal and the middle ear.
The middle ear
- The eardrum changes sound into vibrations.
- These vibrations set in motion a chain of three small bones (ossicles) – hammer, anvil and stirrup. The ossicles transfer vibrations to the cochlea in the inner ear.
The inner ear
- The cochlea contains fluid which begins to move, stimulating highly sensitive hair cells (cilia) which in turn create electrical signals .
- Hair cells at one end of the cochlea send low pitch sound information, and hair cells at the other end send high pitch sound information.
- The auditory nerve picks these electrical signals and carries them to the brain.
- The brain interprets the electrical signals as sounds.