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The Hearing Process
The ear is generally divided into three parts: the outer or external ear, the middle ear and the inner ear.

The external ear (the visible portion of the ear) collects sound and sends it to the eardrum. The eardrum is a small membrane that separates the outer ear from the middle ear.

The middle ear houses a chain of three tiny bones that are connected together, the first of which is attached to the eardrum. These bones are set into vibration by movement of the eardrum, which continues the transmission of sound through the pathway of hearing. The third bone in the chain is attached to the inner ear by another small membrane or window.

The inner ear contains the tiny nerve endings for balance and hearing. It also contains a very unique fluid that becomes set in motion by movement (or displacement) of the small window. The tiny nerve endings are then stimulated and each send a message or impulse to the brain.


The brain is separated into two sides or hemispheres. The left hemisphere receives the majority of information collected by the right ear, while the right hemisphere of the brain receives the majority of information collected by the left ear. The brain interprets the information received and the sensation of hearing occurs. The small differences in the intensity (or loudness) of the sound reaching our ears, along with the time it takes for sound to reach our ears, plays an important role in our brain's ability to filter noise, interpret or understand speech, and determine the direction from which sound is coming.

When sound is processed through only one ear, the brain is deprived of this very important information, and its efficiency in interpreting sound is dramatically reduced. Therefore, both ears play a significant role in the process of hearing.

Ear Diagram

Click here to enlarge



Why You Might be Unaware of Your Hearing Loss

. Types of Hearing Loss
. Dangerous Decibels



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