The Outer (External) Ear
Adaped from Physiology 1999-2000 Student presentations given by by Jennifer Lau, Pency Mak, and Susana Leung, Spring 2000.
The Ear's outer part has two parts:
SOUND WAVES travel throught he external auditory canal, strikes the tympanic membrane and causes it to vibrate . . . .
The Middle Ear
After sound has traveled through the outer ear and hits the tympanic membrane, the sound wave moves from one ossicle to another through the middle ear.
The middle ear has three bones (aka ossicles), which are named for their shapes.
The Inner Ear
Hearing: the activation of specialized mechanoreceptors in the inner ear generates nervous impulses that result in hearing.
Mechanoreceptors - receptors that are mecahnical in nature (e.g. balance).
Bony Labyrinth Perilymph: Watery fluid that fills bony space of ear.
The three spaces in the ear:
The Vestibular is a small round chamber about 1/2 inch long. Its bony walls connect the semicircular canals and cochlea.
The cochlea detects sounds. Lying within the cochlea is the organ of Corti (the organ of hearing). The organ of corti is surrounded by a cochlear duct, which is filled by endolymph. When the endolymph is bent by sound waves, specialized hair cells on the organ of Corti generates nerve impulses, which is sent to the brain through the Cochlear nerve.
The Semicircular canal is located in the inner ear, containing specialized receptor cells called crista ampullars that generates a nerve impulse on movement of the head. The hair cells detects sounds, then they send the information through the cochlear nerve to the brain.
The inner ear also detects changes in your balance and head position. The heart of this detection system is the semicircular canal, which is filled with fluid. It is the movement of this fluid that detects changes in the position of the head, and contributes to the sense of balance.
The semicircular canal consists of 3 canals, each forming 2/3 of a circle. These canals is a fluid filled duct that contains 20,000 hair-like cells, called crista ampullaris.
When the head moves, that movement moves the fluid in the semicircular canal bending the crista ampullaris. When the crista amphularis bends, it sends a signal to the brain through the the vestibular nerve.
Conductive disorders: The way the ear transmits sound is impaired; these disorders are generally correctable through surgery or medication.
Sensorineural disorders: The auditory nerve, by which we receive and process signals from sound, is impaired; these disorders are generally not correctable through amplification or hearing aids.
Middle Ear Deafness:
The Rinne test is used to check for middle-ear deafness. This test works because sound can be conducted (travel) through bones. In a person with middle-ear deafness the malleus, incus, and stapes are often at least partially fused and do not move properly when sound waves traveling through air hit the tympanic membrane. Such an individual will not be able to hear sound through their typmpanic membrane, but can hear sound that travels through their skull.
To conduct the Rinne test, do the following: