Anatomy of the Ear

Anatomy of the Ear

The Anatomy of the Ear

Ever wonder what exactly goes on in our ears? How every single part of the ear plays a huge role in the way we hear sounds? Have you ever wanted to learn more about it, but as soon as you read the word anatomy just completely shut down? Well, we’ve gone through a variety of different articles to give you the most condensed and comprehensible version of the anatomy of the ear. 

The Outer Ear (external ear

  • Sound is collected here.
  • It has two parts: the pinna (a.k.a. auricle) and the ear canal.
  • Pinna: the tough cartilage covered in skin that you can see on the side of your head.
    • Sound is collected.
    • Sound is transferred to the ear canal.
  • Ear Canal: the pathway to the middle ear.
    • Earwax is made here (from the skin glands).
    • Earwax protects the canal.
      • It cleans out all the dirt.
      • It helps protect ears from infections.

The Middle Ear (tympanic cavity

  • Vibrations occur here.
  • It has an air-filled cavity.
  • Sound waves turn into vibrations.
  • Vibrations are sent to the ear.
  • It houses the Tympanic Membrane (a.k.a. eardrum).
    • A thin tissue stretched lightly across the ear canal.
    • It separates the outer ear from the middle ear.
    • Sound hits the eardrums, making it and three very small bones move.
  • Ossicles: the three very small bones.
    • Malleus: attached to the eardrum.
    • Incus: attached to the malleus.
    • Stapes (the smallest bone in the body): attached to the incus.
  • To Hear Properly: the pressure in both eardrums need to be balanced.
    • Hear a popping noise as you go up and down in elevation?
      • That is your ears adjusting to the pressure changes.
  • Eustachian Tube: a narrow tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose.
    • Acts as a pressure valve to balance the pressure on both sides of the eardrum.

The Inner Ear

  • The nerve signal starts here.
  • Middle ear vibrations turn into inner ear nerve signals.
  • The inner ear is made up of the cochlea and the semicircular canals.
    • Cochlea
      • Snail shaped.
      • Turns vibrations into nerve signals by sending signals to the brain through the cochlear nerve (a.k.a. auditory canal)..
    • Semicircular Canals
      • It looks like three tiny connected tubes.
      • It helps you keep balanced.
      • Canals are filled with fluids and tiny hairs that slosh around whenever your head moves.
      • Hairs send these positions to the brain through the vestibular nerve to be interpreted and sent to the muscles that help keep you balanced. 
      • Dizzy?
        • The movement of fluids along the tiny hairs in the semicircular canals are what makes you feel this way.
        • No more sloshing fluids, no more dizziness. 
    • Cochlear Nerve (attached to the cochlea): sends sound information to the brain.
      • This makes up the Vestibulocochlear Nerve.

Now, that wasn’t so bad, right? But just in case, we’ve listed the links below for you to get a more in depth understanding:

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=anatomy-and-physiology-of-the-ear-90-P02025

https://kidshealth.org/en/kids/ears.html

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/how-the-ear-works