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About The Human Ear

The information on this page is about the human ear and where applicable other body parts that are associated or related to the ear.


Cochlea

The "cochlea," is shaped like the coiled shell of a snail. Inside, it contains a bony core and a thin bony shelf (spiral lamina) that winds around the core like the threads of a screw. The shelf divides the bony labyrinth of the cochlea into upper and lower compartments. The upper compartment, called the "scala vestibuli," leads from the oval window to the apex of the spiral. The lower compartment, the "scala tympani," extends from the apex of the cochlea to a membrane-covered opening in the wall of the inner ear called the "round window." The round window is actually situated below and little to the back of the oval window, from which it is separated by a rounded elevation, the "promontory." The membranous labyrinth of the cochlea is represented by the "cochlear duct" (scala media). It lies between the two bony compartments and ends as a closed sac at the apex of the cochlea. The cochlear duct is separated from the scala vestibuli by a "vestibular membrane" (Reissner's membrane) and from the scala tympani by a "basilar membrane." The basilar membrane extends down from the bony shelf to form the floor of the cochlear duct.

Cochlear Duct

The cochlear duct is also known as the scala media. It lies between the two bony compartments and ends as a closed sac at the apex of the cochlea.

Cochlear Nerve

The cochlear nerve branches out into numerous filaments of the auditory nerve. It occupies the spiral canal of the cochlea and conducts sensory stimuli from the ear to the brain.

Ear

The ear is an organ for hearing and balance. It consists of three parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The outer and middle ear mostly collect and transmit sound. The inner ear analyzes sound waves and contains an apparatus that maintains the body's balance. The outer ear is the part which is visible and is made of folds of Skin and cartilage. It leads into the ear canal, which is about one inch long in adults and is closed at the inner end by the eardrum. The eardrum is a thin, fibrous, circular membrane covered with a thin layer of skin. It vibrates in response to changes in the air pressure that constitute sound. The eardrum separates the outer ear from the middle ear. The middle ear is a small cavity which conducts sound to the inner ear by means of three tiny, linked, movable bones called "ossicles." These are the smallest bones in the human body and are named for their shape. The hammer (malleus) joins the inside of the eardrum. The anvil (incus) has a broad joint with the hammer and a very delicate joint to the stirrup (stapes). The base of the stirrup fills the oval window which leads to the inner ear. The inner ear is a very delicate series of structures deep within the bones of the skull. It consists of a maze of winding passages, called the "labyrinth". The front (see cochlea) is a tube resembling a snail's shell and is concerned with hearing. The rear part is concerned with balance. "Keeping one's ear to the ground" means to keep up on current trends. The phrase dates back to early 20th century politicians and comes from frontier lore of both pioneers and Indians, who listened for the sound of approaching hoofbeats.

Ear`s Cochlea and Corti

Shaped like a snail's shell, the cochlea is formed from three ducts that run in parallel: the scala media, which contains sound-sensing hairs; the scala vestibuli, which runs from the oval window; and the scala tympani. The ducts are coiled into two and one-half turns. Vibrations of the stirrup at the oval window cause pressure waves, which change as they pass along the duct. The duct ends at the round window, a membrane that faces into the middle ear cavity. At the bottom of the cochlea duct is the basilar membrane with its organ of Corti and the sound-sensitive hair cells. There are 12,000 outer hair cells and 3,500 inner ones. The tips of the outer cells are embedded in a flap, the tectorial membrane, sticking out into the duct. Pressure changes in the cochlear duct make the membrane vibrate, transmitting bending and shearing movement to the hair cells. This stimulates them to produce a nerve signal, which is carried to the brain by the cochlear nerve. Sound at any particular frequency makes some parts of the membrane vibrate more than others, stimulating a specific group of hair cells so that the sound can be recognized; but the extent of the basilar movement depends on the loudness of the sound. The second, larger, part of the inner ear is an apparatus that has nothing to do with hearing. It is a series of fluid-filled chambers and ducts, which contain more clusters of hair cells. When these are activated, signals from these sensors pass to the brain along a branch of the eighth cranial nerve. When the head is turned, the signals from these cells are processed in the brain, which then activates the eye and body muscles so that they are ready for the turning action. Other receptor cells sense the direction of gravity and straight line movements. The main purpose of these cells is to control balance and, because humans have only two legs and balance is unstable, continuous corrections must be applied so that we do not fall over. These signals also coordinate eye and head movements. Of all the fancies about the ear, the notion which has the most charm is that the ear can pick up the sounds of the ocean in a seashell. The fact is, what is heard is an echo of the pulse in one's head.

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The information on this website is provided for information purposes only and is not intended or recommended as a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your doctor/physician or other qualified health care provider regarding any medical condition or treatment. Some or all of the information on this page may be supplied by a third-party and not controlled by the DianaMossop.com website or authors and is therefore is not the responsibility of the DianaMossop.com website or its authors.

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