The Science Behind Hearing

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When you pop in your AirPods, do you ever wonder how sound waves travel into your ears and get decoded by your brain? Just me?

Hear/here’s the science behind hearing.

First, sound waves travel into your ear canal. These waves vibrate your tympanic membrane, (otherwise known as your eardrum) which in turn vibrates three tiny bones in your ear. These three bones, the malleus, incus, and stapes, (see diagram below) happen to be the smallest bones in your body! When these three bones vibrate, they send the vibrations or sound waves to the cochlea, the snail shaped structure in your ear. The cochlea is filled with fluid, so when these vibrations hit the cochlea, the fluid ripples the tiny hairs next to it. At the top of these tiny hairs, there are things called stereocilia. The stereocilia bumps against an above structure and bends, causing chemicals to rush into the cells. These chemicals create an electrical signal which is sent to the brain and decoded as sound.

That’s a lot to happen in just 0.05 seconds!


Ear diagram





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