There are three parts of the ear anatomy working together to pass noise from external sources, through each section of your ear, to your brain for information processing.
The three sections are known as; the inner ear, the middle ear, the outer ear.
- The inner ear is made up of the cochlea, the auditory nerve and the brain
- The middle ear consists of the middle ear bones called the ossicles (malleus, incus, stapes).
- The outer ear includes the pinna, the ear canal and the eardrum
The Outer Ear.
The outer ear is the first port of call, starting with the pinna which harnesses the sound waves and directs them into the ear canal. The ear canal is a narrow passageway leading to the eardrum. Sound travels through the ear canal in waves causing the eardrum to vibrate. This is the first step to understanding the sound.
The Middle Ear.
The ossicles are a tiny chain of three bones; the malleus, incus and stapes, which move in the middle ear in a vibrating fashion as they react to the movement of the eardrum. The middle ear and the back of the nose and throat are all connected via the Eustachian tube. This system alleviates pressure from the ears when you yawn or swallow to help protect the eardrum membrane from being damaged. This is why when you get a cold or flu, your ears experience a build up of pressure, as the Eustachian tubes have become blocked with mucus.
The Inner Ear.
The inner ear is the final section, allowing us to translate sound waves into recognisable information. The cochlea is a spiral-shaped membrane which is lined with over 15 000 tiny hairs and has fluid moving within it. When a tiny bone taps on the membrane of the cochlea, the fluid inside moves, stimulating the tiny hairs and triggering electrical nerve impulses. These impulses are then transported via the auditory nerve to the brain for deciphering.