Structure of the Ear

The ear consists of three main sections: outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. Each part of the ear plays an important role for a person's hearing and postural equilibrium.

The Outer Ear, also called the pinna or auricle, is the outer most part of the ear. The outer ear is visible to others and responsible for collecting the sound waves, or vibrations, and transferring them down through the ear canal. Once through the ear canal, these sounds and vibrations travel through the tympanic membrane (eardrum) causing the eardrum to vibrate. The tympanic membrane is what divides the external ear from the middle ear.

The Middle Ear is responsible for making sounds louder to reach the inner ear. The middle ear is made up of 3 small bones that are connected called ossicles. The ossicles are the malleus (hammer), incus (anvil), and stapes (stirrup) and collectively are called the auditory ossicles.

The Inner Ear houses the cochlea. The cochlea is a snail-like structure that is filled with fluid, hairs, and nerves. Once these sounds and vibrations reach the inner ear, they are converted into electrical impulses where the auditory nerve sends these impulses to the brain to be processed.

This completes the hearing process.