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How does your ear work?

How do ears work? What makes us hear sounds?

4036 day(s) ago

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The human ear is a very complicated sensory organ, equal in complexity to that of the eye. The human ear has many different parts all working together to produce the sense of hearing. All the parts of the ear are divided into three different sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.

The outer ear is composed of three basic parts. The visible ear is the cup-like flesh that extrudes from our heads and catches the airwaves that make sound. It is called the pinna and is made of mostly cartilage covered in skin. The ear canal is the hole in the head that leads to the other two sections of the ear, the middle and inner. The ear canal is also composed of cartilage and skin. The ear canal ends at the tympanic membrane, more commonly called the eardrum. The eardrum directs and focuses sound waves into the other parts of the ear.

The middle ear is filled with air and houses three small, specialized bones, the malleus, incus, and stapes, also known respectively as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. The stapes is actually the smallest bone in the whole human body. When sound comes through the eardrum, it causes the malleus to hit the incus. In turn the incus moves the stapes and the stapes pushes on an oval window that leads to the inner ear.

When is made to push on the oval window it reacts with the inner ear, filled with fluid. The inner ear houses the cochlea which is the part of the ear that directs the waves through the nervous center and into the brain where they can be interpreted as distinct sounds. The inner ear also contains a special organ that regulates our sense of sense balance and keeps us coordinated with gravity and motion. This organ is composed of three semi-circular canals filled with fluid and the vestibule. Because of this, people who suffer injuries of the ear are often disoriented and confused. When the inner ear is not working properly, people canít keep their balance and often it makes them nauseous as well.

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