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THE HUMAN EAR

After reading this section you will be able to do the following:

  • Explain the main parts of the human ear and how they contribute to our hearing.

The human ear has three main sections, which consist of the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. Sound waves enter your outer ear and travel through your ear canal to the middle ear. The ear canal channels the waves to your eardrum, a thin, sensitive membrane stretched tightly over the entrance to your middle ear. The waves cause your eardrum to vibrate. It passes these vibrations on to the hammer, one of three tiny bones in your ear. The hammer vibrating causes the anvil, the small bone touching the hammer, to vibrate. The anvil passes these vibrations to the stirrup, another small bone which touches the anvil. From the stirrup, the vibrations pass into the inner ear. The stirrup touches a liquid filled sack and the vibrations travel into the cochlea, which is shaped like a shell. Inside the cochlea, there are hundreds of special cells attached to nerve fibers, which can transmit information to the brain. The brain processes the information from the ear and lets us distinguish between different types of sounds.

For a interactive look at the human ear in 3D, open this link to the Healthline.com site.