How Hearing Works
Hearing is an amazing thing. Through the complex pieces of machinery we refer to as ‘ears’, the slightest vibrations in the air are eventually turned into the experience of beautiful music, the voice of your loved ones, or (unfortunately!) the cacophony of a construction site.
But how do they work?
The apparatus we use to hear sound can be categorized into three parts. These are commonly referred to as the inner, outer, and middle ear. These parts of the ear work in sequence:
- First, sound waves in the aire are picked up by the outer ear, which acts as a sort of funnel, passing the vibrations through the ear canal and on to the eardrum.
- Next, the eardrum starts to vibrate. Connected to the eardrum are a group of three bones, which also start to vibrate.
- These bones are also connected to the cochlea, or inner ear. This is a spiral-shaped organ that is filled with fluid, which also vibrates when it receives sound. Inside are thousands of tiny hairs, which turn this vibration into electrical signals.
- Auditory nerves transmit these signals to the brain, which interprets them as sound.
Let’s take a closer look.