Function of the ear

July 2017


Definition

The ear is a complex sensory system able to capture, distribute, and transmit sound vibrations, before turning them into electrical signals to send to the brain.

Function of the ear

The outer ear is composed of two parts: the pinna (partially visible) and the ear canal. The pinna captures external sound vibrations and forwards them to the eardrum via the ear canal. In addition to its sensory role, it amplifies and focuses the sound toward the eardrum and the middle ear.

The eardrum is a thin membrane that separates the outer ear and the middle ear. When sound waves from the ear canal strike the eardrum, it vibrates.

The brain interprets the electrical signals

Our hearing is the result of combined ear-brain activity. The brain therefore plays a key role in the perception of sound, insofar as it analyzes and interprets signals from the inner ear in the form of nerve impulses. More specifically, the brain interprets the intensity and frequency of the sound.

Frequencies perceives by the ear

The ear perceives sounds ranging from 20Hz (low pitch) to about 20,000Hz (high pitch).

The decibel is the unit of measurement of the intensity of sound. The minimum threshold of human hearing is 0 decibels. The threshold at which hearing becomes painful is 120dB.

Schema

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Original article published by . Translated by christelle.b. Latest update on August 20, 2014 at 05:46 AM by christelle.b.
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