How does hearing work?

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The hearing system can be divided into four sections: the outer ear, the middle ear, the inner ear, and the higher auditory pathways to and within the brain.

Diagram of the ear

The outer ear is made up of the pinna (the flap part you can see on the side of your head) and the ear canal. The outer ear is responsible for collecting sound waves and sending them down the ear canal to the eardrum.

Once the sound waves reach the eardrum, the drum starts to vibrate. This transfers the sound waves through to the inner ear via three tiny middle ear bones, called ossicles.

 Within the inner ear are the organs of hearing and balance. The organ of hearing (cochlea) turns the sound energy into nerve impulses that travel up the auditory nerve (hearing nerve) to the brain.