What is hearing?

Hearing is our ability to receive sound waves and convert them into sound impressions that our brain can perceive. The ear can be divided into the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The video illustrates how sound waves travel through the ear.

In the sections below you can read more about each section of the ear and the journey sound makes through the system.

The Outer Ear
The outer ear collects sound waves and directs them into the ear canal, where they are amplified by the canal’s funnel-like shape and channeled on to the eardrum.

The Middle Ear
The sound waves cause the eardrum to vibrate, transmitting the sound to the three tiny bones in the middle ear. These bones are commonly referred to as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup, and they connect the eardrum to a membrane between the middle and inner ear, known as the ‘oval window’. The movement of the ‘oval window’ transmits the pressure waves of sound to the inner ear.

The Inner Ear
The inner ear is fluid-filled and consists of the spiral-shaped “cochlea”. The passageways of the cochlea are lined with 20,000 microscopic hair cells that convert sound vibrations into nerve impulses. These impulses are then sent to the brain, which interprets the impulses as meaningful sounds.