How Does the Ear Work?

Learn how the ear works from Ronald A. Hoffman, M.D. in this Howcast video.

The ear basically has three parts; the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The outer ear begins with your ear lobe. The purpose of the ear lobe is to collect sound, and funnel it down your ear canal to the ear drum. Scientifically know as the tympanic membrane. Sound energy strikes the tympanic membrane, and behind the tympanic membrane is the middle ear space.

Within the middle ear there are three little bones of hearing; the malleus bone, the incus bone, and the stapes bone. And these bones take the sound energy that is impacting the ear drum, and concentrate it at the bottom of the last little bone, which is called the stapes, and present this sound energy to the inner ear.

The inner ear has two parts. The organ of hearing, which is curled up like a snail and called the cochlea. And the organ of balance, which is called the labyrinth, or the vestibular system. When the stapes bone shakes, the last little bone of hearing, mechanical energy is presented to the inner ear. And within the inner ear are little cells that convert mechanical energy into electrical energy. And this electrical energy then goes up the nerve, into the brain, and we hear.