Your ear has three parts: the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear.
The outer ear is the part of your ear that can be seen. It goes by some rather fancy names that we don’t usually hear, the pinna or the auricle. This part of your ear is designed to bounce sound waves into your ear canal, which is also part of your outer ear. Putting your hand behind your ear helps to direct sound waves into your ear canal, allowing you to hear more clearly.
At the end of your ear canal, where the middle ear starts, is stretched a membrane, tight as a drum, and it’s called the tympanic membrane or, more simply, the eardrum. This little membrane works like a drum. And its role is to transmit sound vibrations to three itsy-bitsy bones in your ears, the ossicles.
These three ossicles in your middle ear have special names: the malleus, the incus and the stapes. But they are more commonly known as the hammer, anvil and stirrup. (The stapes, or stirrup, is the very smallest bone in your body.) These bones vibrate the sounds on the “oval window” which sends the vibrations to the cochlea of your inner ear.
So now, meet your inner ear. The cochlea looks remarkably like a snail shell and is filled with liquid. Surrounded by this liquid is the organ of Corti, your actual hearing organ, which is covered with little, tiny hairs.
When these little hairs move they generate electrical signals that are sent to your brain via the auditory nerve. Your brain then gets the job of translating these electrical signals so that you not only hear, but you know what you’re hearing.
Like what you’re hearing? Or, at least find it interesting? Your brain will send a message back to your ear through the auditory nerve telling your ear on which sounds you want to concentrate. This is how you can hear what somebody across the room is saying, even when there are other noises around you…maybe even a less interesting conversation.
Do you know how long it takes for you to hear a sound? Once a sound has reached your ear, your brain can recognize it in just 0.05 a second! That’s half as long as it takes you to blink! This makes the sense of hearing your “fastest” sense!
Ever hear that you are Fearfully and Wonderfully Made? Undisputedly, You ARE.
-By Steven McFie