Mini-Course: Preparing for School-Entry


1 - How Hearing Works

How does hearing work?

Hearing is a mechanical process in our bodies that translates sounds into messages, which the brain then interprets and understands. A diagram of the ear is provided below so that you can see where in the ear each step takes place.
    1. The outer ear picks up sound waves and directs them into the middle ear.
    2. The vibration of the sound waves in turn vibrates the eardrum, which is also called the tympanic membrane. The eardrum is located between the outer ear and the middle ear.
    3. In the middle ear, three tiny bones amplify the vibrations of the eardrum and transmit them into the inner ear.
    4. Next, the cochlea, which looks like a snail-shaped coiled tube, translates the physical vibrations of the sound waves into electrical information. Vibrations move through fluid inside the cochlea like ripples on a pond, triggering tiny hair cells within the cochlea along the way. Different hair cells respond to vibrations at different frequencies. The louder the sound, the more hair cells move.
    5. When stimulated, hair cells send an electrical "pulse" through the auditory nerve, which passes the message on to the cerebral cortex of the brain.
    6. The brain takes this information and interprets it as sound.
the ear.jpg
Watch the video below to review how sound travels in a typical-hearing ear.

Don't have Quicktime? Download it here.

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