Sansum Clinic
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+) font size
PrintEmail
Share
Follow us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter    View our YouTube Videos
 "Like" us on facebook

Channel Manager

How We Hear

How We Hear

Topic Overview

The sounds we hear are the result of vibrations of air, fluid, and solid materials in our environment. The vibrations produce sound waves, which vibrate at a certain speed (frequency) and have a certain height (amplitude). The vibration speed of a sound wave determines how high or low a sound is (pitch). The height of the sound wave determines how loud the sound is (volume).

Hearing is the result of these sound waves traveling through the ear and being converted into nerve impulses that are sent to the brain, which "hears" them.

  • Sound waves enter the ear through the ear canal (external ear) and strike the eardrum (tympanic membrane), which separates the ear canal and the middle ear.
  • The eardrum vibrates, and the vibrations move to the bones of the middle ear. In response, the bones of the middle ear vibrate, magnifying the sound and sending it to the inner ear.
  • The fluid-filled, curved space of the inner ear, sometimes called the labyrinth, contains the main sensory organ of hearing, the cochlea. Sound vibrations cause the fluid in the inner ear to move, which bends tiny hair cells (cilia) in the cochlea. The movement of the hair cells creates nerve impulses, which travel along the cochlear (auditory, or eighth cranial) nerve to the brain and are interpreted as sound.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Steven T. Kmucha, MD - Otolaryngology
Last Revised April 13, 2011

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2013 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

 
© 2014 Sansum Clinic