Auditory System

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The world contains all kinds of energy that translates into information about what we see, hear, smell, touch and taste. A sensory system is a part of the nervous system responsible for processing specific sensory information. The components of a sensory system include sensory receptors, neural pathways, and parts of the brain involved in sensory perception. To begin, energy from the environment stimulates the receptor cells in whichever sense organ is being used. If this information were auditory, the ear would convert sound waves in the air into electrical impulses that would further be interpreted by the brain as sound. A sound wave first enters the pinna, the fleshy part of the ear on the outside of the body. It then travels through the external auditory canal where it then meets the eardrum, a thin membrane in the outer ear. The eardrum then vibrates in response to the sound wave. What we hear will depend on the wavelength and frequency of the wave. The eardrum is connected to a group of three small bones call “the ossicles” in the middle ear. This group includes the malleus, incus and the stapes. These three bones, the smallest in the human body, protect the eardrum from more intense sounds and also deliver the vibrations to the base of the stapes. The stapes then sends the vibrations into the inner ear and interacts with the round window. The round window, a small membrane that allows liquid inside the inner ear to be displaced and receive the vibration. The vibration travels through the spiral structure of the inner ear called the cochlea and ends at the round window. Inside the cochlea there are three canals: the scala vestibuli, the scala media and the scala tympani. The scala vestibule leads up to the apex of the cochlea, the scala tympani leads down to the round window and the scala media sits in between the other two canals. All of these canals are filled with fluid and are separated by two different membranes; Reissner’s membrane and the Basilar...