The human ear is a complex organic mechanism that detects sound energy transmitted through air and other media, converting those sounds into a form that can be understood by the brain.
There are three major parts to the ear:
The outer ear captures and directs sounds towards the inner ear. The outer ear includes the visible part of the ear (the pinna), the auditory canal, and the eardrum (tympanic membrane). Ear wax is produced in the auditory canal to protect the ear from dust and other invasive foreign bodies.
The middle ear is responsible for transmitting sound to the inner ear. The inner ear includes three small bones which vibrate in response to movements of the eardrum. The bones of the middle ear are known as the hammer (the malleus), the anvil (the incus) and the stirrup (the stapes) due to their distinctive shapes. The inner ear is connected to the back of the mouth by Eustachian tubes which help equalise air pressure on both sides of the eardrum. Your ears may ‘pop’ if pressure becomes imbalanced.
The inner ear hosts the shell-like cochlea, which contains thousands of small, hair-like fibres which move in response to sound waves. These responses to sounds are transmitted to the brain through the auditory nerve. The inner ear is also important for balance. The vestibular structure in the inner ear detects bodily movements in three dimensions and transmits those changes to the brain.
To learn more about your ear, please visit the Hear It website.