How Hearing Works

The sense of hearing is an incredible process. Discover how our ears and our brain work together, so that we can hear the world around us.

The Steps of Hearing

 

Outer Ear

Sound waves, which are vibrations, enter through the outer ear and reach the middle ear to vibrate the eardrum.

The Outer Ear
 

Middle Ear

The eardrum then vibrates the ossicles, which are small bones in the middle ear. The sound vibrations travel through the ossicles to the inner ear.

The Middle Ear
 

Inner Ear

When the sound vibrations reach the cochlea, they push against specialised cells known as hair cells. The hair cells turn the vibrations into electrical nerve impulses.

The Inner Ear
 

Auditory Nerve

The auditory nerve connects the cochlea to the auditory centres of the brain. When these electrical nerve impulses reach the brain, they are experienced as sound.

The Auditory Nerve
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The Journey of Sound

We hear when sound waves travel through the air to our eardrum, across our middle ear, into our inner ear, and finally to the auditory centres of our brain. Our ears are always on and are continuously carrying sounds along this hearing pathway.

Watch this easy-to-follow video to see the pathway of hearing in action.