Ear: Auditory System and Semicircular Canals

Topics: Auditory system, Ear, Cochlea Pages: 4 (1402 words) Published: March 17, 2004
The ear is an organ of the body that is used for hearing and balance. It is connected to the brain by the auditory nerve and is composed of three divisions, the external ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The greater part of which is enclosed within the temporal bone.

The ear is looked upon as a miniature receiver, amplifier and signal-processing system. The structure of the outer ear catching sound waves as they move into the external auditory canal. The sound waves then hit the eardrum and the pressure of the air causes the drum to vibrate back and forth. When the eardrum vibrates its neighbour the malleus then vibrates too. The vibrations are then transmitted from the malleus to the incus and then to the stapes. Together the three bones increase the pressure which in turn pushes the membrane of the oval window in and out. This movement sets up fluid pressure waves in the perilymph of the cochlea. The bulging of the oval window then pushes on the perilymph of the scala vestibuli. From here the pressure waves are transmitted from the scala vestibuli to the scala tympani and then eventually finds its way to the round window. This causes the round window to bulge outward into the middle ear. The scala vestibuli and scala tympani walls are now deformed with the pressure waves and the vestibular membrane is also pushed back and forth creating pressure waves in the endolymph inside the cochlear duct. These waves then causes the membrane to vibrate, which in turn cause the hairs cells of the spiral organ to move against the tectorial membrane. The bending of the stereo cilia produces receptor potentials that in the end lead to the generation of nerve impulses.

The External or Outer Ear - comprises of the auricle or pinna which is the fleshy part of the outer ear. It is cup-shaped and collects and amplifies sound waves which then passes along the ear canal to the ear drum or tympanic membrane. The rim of the auricle is called the helix and...
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