What is Hearing and the Ear?
Hearing is how we perceive sound. This is how our ears take in sound waves, and turn them into something our brains can understand.
There are three main parts of the ear that help us to hear:
- The outer ear – The outer ear has three parts:
- The Pinna or Auricle: This is the part of the ear located outside of our head. The part we usually refer to when we say ear. It helps bring sounds and vibrations together so we can hear more of them. Ear canal: This is a tube that helps sound to travel further inside our ear and to the next stage of hearing.
- The Ear Canal: This is a tube that helps sound to travel further inside our ear and to get to the next stage of hearing
- The Eardrum: The eardrum is a thin sheet that vibrates when sound is touched. Your eardrum is very sensitive and fragile. Putting anything in your ear is never a good idea, even something that seems safe and soft can damage your eardrums.
- The middle ear – Most of the middle ear is filled with air and contains three bones. It’s true that your ears have tiny bones called ossicles that help you hear! These are called hammers (malleus), anvils (incus) and stirrups (stapes). They amplify the sound or make it louder. The middle ear helps transfer sound from the air to the liquid inside the next stage, or inner ear. The stirrup is the smallest bone in the body.
- The inner ear – The inner ear is filled with fluid and has a hearing organ called the cochlea. This organ helps to pick up vibrations and convert them into electrical signals that nerves send to the brain. It actually uses tiny hairs that vibrate with sound waves in the liquid. Then you “hear” it. Great! The inner ear also has fluid-filled tubes that help you keep your balance.
Why we have two ears?
Having two ears helps you determine the direction of sound. Your brain is smart enough to realize that if sound hits one ear right in front of the other and gets a little louder, that’s where the sound is coming from. Having one ear on each side of the head also helps us hear better.
We can hear sound in a certain frequency range around 20Hz in low and 20,000Hz in high. Some animals have different ranges. For example, dolphins cannot hear sounds as low as we can, but can hear sounds higher than 100,000 Hz Dogs and cats can hear sounds much higher than we can.
Why do I get dizzy?
The brain receives several signals from your body to keep it balanced. One of them comes from inner ear fluid. The brain can tell a lot about how the fluid in your ear moves or tilts. The brain also uses your eyes and touch to tell it about your balance and stance. When you spin very quickly and then stop, the fluid in your ear continues to rotate, but your eyes and body have stopped moving. Your brain is a bit confused and you feel dizzy.