Understanding the Typical Hearing Pathway
Updated: Jan 24, 2020
The process of hearing can be broken into the three sections of the ear: outer, middle, and inner.
Outer Ear: Sound enters the ear through the pinna (the part of the ear we can see) and funnels into the ear canal.
Middle Ear: The sound waves hit the tympanic membrane (eardrum) and set a series of little bones called ossicles into motion (malleus, incus, stapes). These operate in a piston like motion and focus the sound into the inner ear.
Inner Ear: The sound waves cause the fluid inside the cochlea to move across the cilia (little hairs) lining the structure. The movement of these hairs create a chemical reaction that produces and electrical impulse. The auditory nerve brings this impulse to the brain to be interpreted.
It is important to understand that there can be disconnects or breakdowns at any step in this process leading to hearing loss or deafness.