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  • Hearing

    The process by which sounds are transmitted from the environment to our brains.


    Sensory translations of environment signals


    The external ear

    External Auditory Meatus

    The auditory canal which is approximately 1 inch in length and ends at the eardrum.


    The hammer, anvil, and the stirrup: three small bones, each about the size of a grain of rice, through lever action, transmit and increase sound pressure as it travels through the middle ear.

    Eustachian tube

    A tube between the nasopharynx (throat) and the middle ear which keeps air pressure inside the middle ear equalized with that outside.


    The organ of hearing in the inner ear. It is a coiled tube within a tube, which transduces and encodes mechanical vibrations into electrochemical neurological signals.


    The area in the base of the cochlea which translates between the semicircular canals and the cochlea.

    Semicircular canals

    Attached to the hearing apparatus, give feedback on balance.

    Tympanic membrane

    The eardrum

    Stereophonic hearing

    That portion of the hearing process which deals with the location of sounds in space by the use of our ears.

    Oval Window

    The membrane between the footplate of the stapes of the middle ear and the scala vestibuli of the inner ear.


    An apparatus that converts one form of energy into another form. Mechanical energy (vibration) into electromagnetic signals. Ex. microphone.


    A seawater-like fluid in the scala vestibuli, helicotrema and the scala tympani of the cochlea.

    Apical End

    From the Latin "apex" meaning tip or end. The small end in the center of the coil of the cochlea, the opposite end of the cochlear base.

    Round Window

    The membrane separating the middle ear cavity from the scala tympani of the inner ear. The membrane is flexible and will be in opposite phase with the oval window when a tonal stimulus is present.

    Scala Vestibuli

    The upper level of the cochlea bordered by the oval window at its inception, the helicotrema at the apex, the cochlear wall, and Reissner's membrane. It is filled with perilymph.


    A narrow opening at the apical end of the cochlea joining the scala vestibuli from the scala tympani.

    Scala Tympani

    The lower level of the cochlea bordered by the helicorema at the apical end, the round window at the base, the cochlear wall and the basilar membrane. It is filled with perilymph.

    Cochlear Duct

    A tube within a tube lying between the scala vestibuli and the scala tympani. It contains endolymph and houses the Organ of Corti. Along its lower wall is the basilar membrane. Its upper wall is Reissner's membrane.


    The fluid in the cochlear duct.

    Organ of Corti

    The organ which contains about 23,500 hair cells. It is supported by the basilar membrane which, when deformed by pressure, stimulates the hair cells to trigger nerve impulses.

    Basilar Membrane

    The membrane which divides the scala tympani from the cochlear duct. It is this membrane which supports the Organ of Corti.


    The microscopic "hairs" of the hair cells extending through the reticular membrane. There are approximately fourteen cilia atop each hair cell.

    Reticular Membrane

    The membrane covering the hair cells, yet allowing the cilia to extend upward through it.

    Tectorial Membrane

    A membrane extending across the top of Corti's Organ. When the cilia are deformed by being compressed against this membrane, the hair cells stimulate the auditory nerve to "fire."

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