20.6.2.1 Mechanism of Hearing

How does ear convert sound waves into neural impulses, which are sensed and processed by the brain enabling us to recognise a sound ? The external ear receives sound waves and directs them to the ear drum.

The ear drum vibrates in response to the sound waves and these vibrations are transmitted through the ear ossicles (malleus, incus and stapes) to the oval window. The vibrations are passed through the oval window on to the fluid of the cochlea, where they generate waves in the lymphs.

The waves in the lymphs induce a ripple in the basilar membrane. These movements of the basilar membrane bend the hair cells, pressing them against the tectorial membrane. As a result, nerve impulses are generated in the associated afferent neurons.

These impulses are transmitted by the afferent fibres via auditory nerves to the auditory cortex of the brain, where the impulses are analysed and the sound is recognised.

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