The ear is divided into 3 parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. Each part of the ear plays a crucial role in how we hear.

Outer Ear
  • The outer ear consists of the pinna, which is the external component we think of when we hear the word “ear”.
  • It also consists of the ear canal.
  • The pinna collects the sound waves and sends them down the ear canal.
Middle Ear
  • The eardrum separates the outer ear from the middle ear.
  • Vibrations from the eardrum move the malleus, incus, and stapes. Those are the names for the three small bones in the middle ear.
Inner Ear
  • Movements of the bones in the middle ear cause vibrations in the fluid of the inner ear.
  • The inner ear consists of the cochlea, which is the sensory organ for hearing. The cochlea looks like a snail shell.
  • The cochlea contains hair cells which are bathed in fluid. They help transfer sound to the auditory nerve.
  • The auditory nerve is responsible for sending the sound signal up the brainstem to higher regions of the brain, called the auditory cortex.