Through a series of magnifications of the ear, this animation depicts the movement, amplification, translation, and interpretation of sound waves traveling through the ear' s three regions, ultimately becoming neural messages sent to the brain.
The ear is divided into three regions: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear.
When sound waves enter the ear canal, they cause the eardrum to vibrate. The vibration moves the three bones in the middle ear, called the ossicles. The ossicles are also known as the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes). These tiny bones transfer and amplify sound waves to the oval window, which is located behind the stirrup.
When the oval window vibrates, it moves fluid across a membrane inside the cochlea. The fluid causes the membrane to move. Specialized hair cells translate this movement into nerve impulses, which are sent to the brain through the vestibulocochlear nerve. The brain interprets the impulses as sound.
Reviewed last on: 10/5/2008
Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Gene Therapeutics Research Institute, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.