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Part 2

The Physiology of Hearing

Gross Anatomy of the Ear


z The ear itself is divided into three sections: the outer
ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear.
z The outer ear acts as a funnels vibrations in the air
into the head. It also protects the delicate interior
mechanisms of the middle ear.
z The middle ear, located in the hollow space in the
skull, converts the air vibrations into mechanical
vibrations.
z The inner ear converts these mechanical vibrations
into nerve impulses, which is sent to the brain to be
decoded.

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Gross Anatomy of the Ear

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The Outer Ear


z The outer ear is a flap of skin and cartilage at each
side of the head.
z It acts as a megaphone in reverse, amplifying and
channeling sound into the ear.
z The exterior structure called the pinna or auricle,
assist in directional hearing, both horizontally and
vertically.
z The ear canal runs through the temporal bone of the
skull, up to the ear drum.
z The ear drum, of tympanic membrane, is a circular
plate of fibers attached to the outer edges of the ear
canal.

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The Outer Ear

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The Middle Ear


z The back of the eardrum faces the middle ear
z This is a hollow chamber connected to the throat via
the Eustachian tube.
z The middle ear is composed of three small bones: the
malleus (hammer), incus (anvil), and stapes (stirrup).
z One end of the malleus is connected to the ear drum,
which couple the vibrations from the outer ear to the
inner ear.
z These form a lever system that amplifies the force
coming from the ear drum to compress the fluid inside
the cochlea.
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The Middle Ear

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The Ossicles
z When the ear drum flexes, the hammer rotates,
pushing the head of the hammer into the anvil.
z The anvil has a long protrusion called the long crus,
which is about 30% longer than the manubrium.
z The long crus is connected to the stirrup, with its
footplate connected to the oval window on the
cochlea.
z These transmit the mechanical vibrations of the
ossicles to the fluids in the inner ear.

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The Ossicles

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The Inner Ear


z Nested inside the skull is a bony structure called the
cochlea.
z Along with the cochlea are the semicircular canals,
which is used in the sense of balance.

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The Inner Ear

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The Cochlea
z The cochlea is connected from the middle ear by the
oval window.
z As the stirrup moves in and out, it compresses the
fluid inside the cochlea, called the endolymph.
z At the other end of the cochlea is the fenestra rotunda
or the round window, which provides a pressure
release.
z This flow of fluid deforms the Basilar membrane, which
moves the Organ of Corti, causing nerve fibers to
trigger.

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The Cochlea

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Inside the Cochlea


z There are three chambers running along the cochlea,
divided by a thin bone called the bony shelf, and two
flexible membranes, Reissners membrane, and the
Basilar membrane.
z Inside the Basilar membrane facing the Cochlear duct
are hair cells (cilia).
z These hair cells are stimulated by shear forces as fluid
travels through the cochlea - producing a charge.
z These charges are transmitted to Cortis ganglion,
firing the nerves cells, which eventually reach the
brain.

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Inside the Cochlea

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The Organ of Corti

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