How Ears and Hearing Work

How Ears and Hearing Work 

Ears are an incredible part of your body. They are able to take sounds from the environment and then allow your brain to interpret what is going on or what has been said. The ear does this in a mechanical way, meaning the physical movement of the ear allows for hearing as opposed to chemical reactions which are more often used for other processes in the body.

The basic path of sound to hearing starts off with the outer ear collecting sound waves and sending them to the external auditory canal. This ear canal directs these sound waves to the eardrum, which then begins to vibrate from the sound waves. There are three tiny bones in the middle ear section which pick up the waves from the eardrum, and then amplify the sound and send it to the inner ear. Vibrations then enter through a part of the inner ear called the oval window. This action causes the fluid inside the cochlea to move. There are special nerve cells, which are attached to hair cells in the cochlea that translate the sound waves picked up by the hair cells into electrical currents in the auditory nerve. These impulses get sent to the brain’s central auditory cortex, where it becomes sound after “translation” (How Hearing Works | Auditory System | Hearingloss.com. (n.d.). Hearing Loss | Hearingloss.com. Retrieved July 10, 2013, from http://www.hearingloss.com/how-hearing-works).