How Your Ears Work

How your ears work is a complicated process. We believe that education is the key to helping you understand how to best care for your ears. So here is a proper explanation of how your ears work. Hearing is a function of the brain. The process of hearing actually takes place in the brain, not the ears.

Three Main Parts of the Ear

Learning about the three main parts of the ear will help you understand how they work:

  1. Outer Ear: This is the part that is visible and also includes the external auditory canal.
  2. Middle Ear: The small, air-filled space that is inside the eardrum. It has 3 tiny bones called ossicles.
  3. Inner Ear: This is the inside part of the ear that includes the cochlea. It is responsible for changing sounds into neurological signals. The auditory nerve sends the sounds to the brain.

How We Hear

How we hear is a complicated and intricate process that shows how wondrous and amazing the human body is. Sounds send vibrations or sound waves into the air. Our ears are designed to funnel these sounds through the three main parts of our ears. The funneled sounds make their way to strike the eardrum and cause it to vibrate. Those vibrations are passed through the bones in the middle ear. The bones transmit them to the cochlea in the inner ear. The fluid inside the tubes of the cochlea and tiny hair cells convert the vibrations to nerve impulses which are sent to the brain through the hearing nerve. The brain then interprets the impulses into sounds.

Hearing and Your Brain

Now, you see how the brain processes the sounds our ears “hear”. Our ears translate the sounds and send them to the brain for processing. Here are the three areas of your brain that interpret sound and produce speech through your auditory system:

  1. The temporal lobe is where the primary auditory cortex is. It receives sensory information from the inner ear.
  2. Wernicke’s area is located in the temporal lobe. It is responsible for speech comprehension.
  3. Broca’s area is also located in the temporal lobe and is responsible for speech production.

Why We Hear

Why we hear is another key to understanding how ears work. Hearing governs a process that includes speech interpretation as well as determining sounds. There are four stages of how we use our hearing discovered by Dr. Ramsdell (source).

  1. Understanding speech – the symbolic level. Informs, educates and entertains.
  2. Appreciating sounds that please us – the aesthetic level. Gives pleasure.
  3. Recognising sounds that alert us – the warning level. Alerts and prepares.
  4. Recognising the changing background sounds of the world around us – the primitive level. Auditory background for daily living.

Kenwood Hearing Center is Here to Help You through All Aspects of Hearing Loss

If you have any questions about hearing loss or hearing aids, please contact us  at Kenwood Hearing Center to schedule a hearing assessment  with one of our Audiologists today. We are here for you, to help maintain your hearing health.

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