How The Ear Works

The ear has three main parts that work together to help you hear — the outer, middle, and inner ear.

Outer: The outer ear catches sound waves and sends them down your ear canal to the eardrum, a flexible, circular membrane that vibrates when touched by sound.

Middle: Sound vibrations continue from the eardrum into the middle ear, where a bridge made of three tiny bones — the hammer, anvil, and stirrup — increases and amplifies the sound vibrations even more before transmitting them through the oval window.

Inner: The cochlea sits here looking like a snail shell, while in reality it houses a system of tubes filled with fluid and tiny hair cells. Sound waves passing through the oval window cause the fluid to move in the cochlea, setting the hair cells in motion. In turn, these cells transform the vibrations to electrical impulses that travel along the auditory nerve to the brain.

The ear has three main parts that work together to help you hear — the outer, middle, and inner ear.

Most of the work done by your ears is mechanical in nature, catching and amplifying sound waves, then turning them into electrical impulses to be sent to the brain. The really complex task of hearing — understanding sounds — is done in the brain. That’s why our Doctors of Audiology evaluate the actual nerve that carries the information from the ear to the brain, so you can be given proper expectations of intervention. We won’t promise miracles. Our Doctors will give you the facts!

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