036 An Overview of the Mechanism of Hearing

 In this episode, Leslie talks about how we hear sounds. From the external ear to the eardrum, down to the 3 bony ossicles, then to the cochlea to be sent as signals towards the brain, it is all explained in this video.

Enjoy!

Transcript of Today’s Episode

Hello and welcome to another episode of Interactive Biology TV, where we’re making biology fun! My name is Leslie Samuel. In this episode, Episode 36, I’m going to be giving an overview of the mechanism of hearing. Now, you’re listening to this video right now, well you’re watching this video right now, and you’re hearing the words that I’m saying that have been recorded. What we’re going to do is look at how that process happens. So let’s get right into it.

We’re looking at a drawing of the ear, and there are a few things that I want to point out here. Here we can see that this is the external part, so this is the external ear. Then we have this section here, and that is called, I’m going to draw a line down here, that’s called the external auditory canal. Then here, there’s a structure that we call the eardrum. Connected to the eardrum, we have 3 small bones. We call them the 3 bony ossicles: the malleus, the incus, and the stapes. Depending on which book you read, you’ll see malleus, incus, and stapes, or hammer, anvil, and stirrup. They all mean the same thing. This is the hammer, this is the anvil, and this is the stirrup. I’m going to be using malleus, incus, and stapes. The way I typically remember this is MIS, mis: malleus, incus, and stapes. Those are the 3 bones. One here, one there, and this is the third one here.

Then we have this structure here that looks kind of like a snail, and that is called the cochlea. Then we have, let me do this in a different color, we have this structure here, and that is the auditory, of course, because it deals with hearing, the auditory nerve. That, of course, goes to the brain. So these are the parts that I want you to pay attention to. Once again, we have the external ear, and in some places, you’re going to see this called the pinna. Then we have the external auditory canal, we have the eardrum, malleus, incus, and stapes, the cochlea, and the auditory nerve.

There are a few other things that we have, like these are called the semicircular canals. I’m not going to talk about that much today. And then we have this connection here where the stapes connects to the cochlea, and that’s called the oval window. And then there’s the round window on the other end of the cochlea. So these are the parts that I want you to know. Now we’re going to talk about how hearing happens. We’re going to give an overview of the mechanism of hearing.

Now, sound exists as waves. You have particles in the ear that are vibrating back and forth, and there’s kind of like an oscillation. That is how the sound starts. Something vibrates, causing the ear to vibrate, and what you’re hearing is a result of this process. So the sound waves are coming from some source, let’s say you’re listening to this right now, which you are. We have sound waves that are coming from the speakers. The speakers are vibrating back and forth. The external ear focuses those sound waves into the external auditory canal. The air molecules are vibrating back and forth, and that vibration comes and strikes the eardrum. When the sound waves strike the eardrum, the eardrum is going to vibrate back and forth. The malleus, incus, and stapes are connected to the eardrum. The malleus is connected to the eardrum directly, the incus is connected to the malleus, and the stapes is connected to the incus. So that causes those bones to vibrate.

When those bones vibrate, it’s going to cause the oval window to vibrate. In the cochlea, which is what it’s connected to, we have fluid inside that cochlea. When the oval window vibrates, the fluid inside the cochlea is going to vibrate, and that’s going to cause a series of vibrations. We’re going to look at what’s going on in here in more detail in the next episode, but the vibration in here is going to cause a signal in the auditory nerve, and that signal then travels to the brain.

So we have the same general mechanism when it comes to senses. There are receptors inside of this cochlea that’s going to respond to the vibrating fluids. That’s going to cause a receptor potential that is going to cause a signal to be sent to the brain, and then the brain is going to interpret that signal. In this case, it’s going to interpret it as sound, and you’re going to hear what I’m saying or you’re going to hear something that you’re listening to. Whatever is the source of that sound, you will be able to hear it because the brain is interpreting what is happening with the receptors that are found inside the cochlea.

There’s one more term I’d like to point out, and that is the eardrum. Another name for the eardrum is also the tympanic membrane. So if you ever hear me referring to tympanic membrane, that is exactly the same thing as the eardrum.

I have an animation to show you that depicts this entire process, and you can see that here. There are a few things I want to point out. You can see the sound waves coming in here, and then you can see the vibrating eardrum. Then you can see the bones, the 3 bony ossicles: malleus, incus, and stapes. Those are vibrating, causing stuff to happen in the cochlea. Of course, I’m being a little vague there, but we’re going to get into more detail in the next episode. In response to these sensory receptors detecting that vibration, that’s going to cause a signal in the auditory nerve that goes to the brain.

So there you have it. You can see the entire process happening. This, of course, is just an animation, but it gives you a good overview of how hearing takes place. If you have any questions, of course you can leave them in the comments section below, and I’ll be happy to answer your questions. You can always visit us at www.Interactive-Biology.com for more biology videos and other resources to help make biology fun. That’s it for this video, and I’ll see you in the next one.



You may also like

The Blood Supply to the Kidneys

The Blood Supply to the Kidneys

Page [tcb_pagination_current_page] of [tcb_pagination_total_pages]

  • You are very much welcome. Hearing will be the topic of the next few videos. Glad the timing is right 🙂

  • I am a psychology student and this video helps me understand the process behind hearing well. Good job……..
    🙂

  • What is the function of the round window? I watched several videos about the structure of the ear, but none of them says anything about the round window, and here it was just mentioned.

  • @mimachka That’s to balance the pressure. Think about it this way – When the bony ossicles vibrate, that causes the oval window to vibrate in and out. That’s going to cause an increase in pressure when the oval window pushes in. Fluid doesn’t compress, so that pressure needs to go somewhere. By having the round window on the other side, when the oval window pushes in, that pushes the round window out so that you don’t get damage to the cochlea.

  • That’s to balance the pressure. Think about it this way – When the bony ossicles vibrate, that causes the oval window to vibrate in and out. That’s going to cause an increase in pressure when the oval window pushes in. Fluid doesn’t compress, so that pressure needs to go somewhere. By having the round window on the other side, when the oval window pushes in, that pushes the round window out so that you don’t get damage to the cochlea.

  • What is the function of the round window? I watched several videos about the structure of the ear, but none of them says anything about the round window, and here it was just mentioned.

  • That’s to balance the pressure. Think about it this way – When the bony ossicles vibrate, that causes the oval window to vibrate in and out. That’s going to cause an increase in pressure when the oval window pushes in. Fluid doesn’t compress, so that pressure needs to go somewhere. By having the round window on the other side, when the oval window pushes in, that pushes the round window out so that you don’t get damage to the cochlea.

  • oh thank you very much for the prompt answer. that made it really clear! :))))

  • are the ossicles bones or cartilages? I don’t know why the nature needed bones there, that is hard to vibrate. wouldn’t be better cartilage or lighter membranes?
    thank you so much.

  • are the ossicles bones or cartilages? I don’t know why the nature needed bones there, that is hard to vibrate. wouldn’t be better cartilage or lighter membranes?
    thank you so much.

  • i’m a medical student and i have a quiz today about this. thank you so much for helping!

  • @gunjan0808 No, the vibration of the stapes (attached to the oval window) causes the fluid inside the cochlea to vibrate, which in turn cause the tiny hairs with mechanoreceptors inside the cochlea to vibrate. The organ of corti then converts the vibrations into nerve impulses which are sent via the auditory nerve to the temporal lobe of the brain.

  • No, the vibration of the stapes (attached to the oval window) causes the fluid inside the cochlea to vibrate, which in turn cause the tiny hairs with mechanoreceptors inside the cochlea to vibrate. The organ of corti then converts the vibrations into nerve impulses which are sent via the auditory nerve to the temporal lobe of the brain.

  • @mimachka The oval window moves in and out in harmony with the round window. This prevents damage resulting from increased pressure (from the movement of the oval window) inside the cochlea.

  • The oval window moves in and out in harmony with the round window. This prevents damage resulting from increased pressure (from the movement of the oval window) inside the cochlea.

  • No, the vibration of the stapes (attached to the oval window) causes the fluid inside the cochlea to vibrate, which in turn cause the tiny hairs with mechanoreceptors inside the cochlea to vibrate. The organ of corti then converts the vibrations into nerve impulses which are sent via the auditory nerve to the temporal lobe of the brain.

  • The oval window moves in and out in harmony with the round window. This prevents damage resulting from increased pressure (from the movement of the oval window) inside the cochlea.

  • i love all of your videos i watch. i read the text book and then come on to ur videos and it always clears so much up in such a simple easy to follow and interesting way. thankyou so much for your generosity lesley samuels 🙂

  • i love all of your videos i watch. i read the text book and then come on to ur videos and it always clears so much up in such a simple easy to follow and interesting way. thankyou so much for your generosity lesley samuels 🙂

  • I LOVE YOU!!! YOU have saved my sanity, after hours of reading things have finally come into perspective.. Please keep it up don’t ever stop making videos!!!!

  • Leslie,

    I love you videos,they are informative and entertaining. I show the hearing video to my Medical Director, Robert del Junco, M.D. and he loved it. He was hoping that he could use it at a charity lecture for Turner’s Syndrome. He has a powerpoint presentation on the anatomy and physiology of ear/hearing, but he would like to show this video at the end of his lecture. He thought it would help the audience (teens/adults) put his lecture into perspective, pluse his is a little dry. Oh course, you would be credited and he just handed me his Mastercard to make a donation :). I did try to download it, but I couldn’t save it. Please let me know if you will give Dr. del Junco permission to use you video for this upcoming charity lecture. Thanks again and I will be making a donation as soon as I sent this email off.

    Jennifer Quintero

  • am i the only computer science student on vacation watching this because of psychology book you are reading mentioning signal transfer to the brain ?

  • this is a very good video. it really helps me for my biology mid term test at school next week 🙂 thank you very much!

  • very good video ,, tank you ^_^ .. 2nd year medical student from Libya
    .

  • Sound is propagated by longitudinal waves in air and liquids. You drew transversal ones.
    Still, good explanation =)

  • I teach this as part of my Acoustics for Musicians module. This is a valuable resource. Thank-you

  • to equalise the air pressure on both sides of the timpanic membrane. the eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the sinus and the outside world via the nose this is why it’s extremely painful if you get on a plane with a head cold (which blocks the eustachian tube) and the cabin pressure changes dramatically during take-off or landing.

  • i agree with this comment although it is common practice to use a transverse diagrammatic representation when talking about sound as it is very difficult to represent the different frequencies and amplitude characteristics of sound using a longitudinal representation. the animation has the best representation

  • no. there is no real effect of piercing the pinna on your hearing. if you’re thinking of inserting a huge ring that stretches your ear lobe it may affect how the pinna focuses the sound waves into your auditory canal but you will soon get used to the slightly different sound colouration and in fact probably wont notice any difference at all. (as a fun exercise, try taping the pinna to the side of your head using cellotape and see how that changes the frequency content of your hearing)
    Just don’t let anyone see you do this as you will look mildly ridiculous. (I’m not kidding. you should do this once in your life as it gives an instant understanding of the value of the pinnae) P.S. DO NOT under any circumstances pierce your eardrum

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Get in touch

    Name*
    Email*
    Message
    0 of 350
    >