Interactive Ear (Flash)

Click on the numbers above to view animation. Text version below.
 

Outer Ear − Incoming signals are made up of sound “waves” or vibrations, which are collected by the outer ear. The unique shape of the outer ear functions like a radar dish, collecting the sound waves and funneling them down the ear canal to the ear drum.
 

Middle Ear/Inner − The incoming sound waves that are sent to the eardrum cause it to vibrate. These vibrations in turn cause movement in three small bones, called ossicles, that are connected to the eardrum on one side and to the inner ear on the other.
 

The movement of the ossicles causes waves in a fluid filled organ called the cochlea. The fluid spirals through the cochlea, and this flow is sensed by tiny nerve cells lining the cochlea’s wall. These nerve cells send electrical impulses through the auditory nerve to the brain.
 

Brain − The electrical impulses that travel up the auditory nerve are decoded and interpreted by the brain, which provides meaning and relevance to the signals.

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