This is how our hearing works

The human ear

The human ear can be divided into three anatomical areas: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The electrical signals that reach the brain via the auditory nerve are processed there in the auditory cortex. It is here that the stimuli are interpreted into tones, sounds and language. One speaks of auditory perception.

Table of Contents
  • The human ear
  • The outer ear
  • The middle ear
  • The inner ear

The outer ear

The outer ear consists of the auricle, the earlobe and the external auditory canal, which is also called the ear canal. The shape of the auricle is designed so that the sound waves are collected and conducted through the external ear canal to the eardrum. The ear canal is slightly “S” -shaped and approx. 2.5 cm long in adults. It contains tiny hairs and glands that produce ear wax, also known as cerumen. The cerumen keeps the skin moist and is used to remove dust, dead skin cells and other foreign objects from the ear.

The middle ear

The middle ear begins at the eardrum, a very thin membrane that is made to vibrate by the sound waves that hit it. The space behind the eardrum is the tympanic cavity, which is connected to the nasopharynx via the ear trumpet. This is where the ossicles, hammer, anvil and stapes are located. The ossicles are used to transmit the vibrations of the eardrum to the inner ear.

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The inner ear

Further inside the head, in part of the temporal bone, is the membranous labyrinth. The labyrinth consists on the one hand of the semicircular canals of the organ of equilibrium and on the other hand of the cochlea. The cochlea is divided into three areas filled with fluid. Two outer areas enclose an area with fine hair cells, the organ of Corti. Here the vibrations are converted into electrical signals that are sent to the brain via the auditory nerve.

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