How do humans hear?

Find out how the ear and brain work together to let people hear.

Hearing - key words

Outer ear - Part of the ear you can see. Shaped like a funnel to collect sound waves and send them to the inner ear. Also called the pinna

Ear canal - Tube that runs from the outer ear to the inner ear. Lined with cells that produce ear wax

Ear wax - Protects the ear by trapping dirt and fighting infections

Ear drum - Thin layer of tightly stretched skin. It vibrates when sound waves hit it

Hammer or Malleus - One of the three tiny bones in the ear. It moves when the ear drum vibrates

Anvil or Incus - The second tiny bone in the ear. The anvil is moved by the hammer

Stirrup or Stapes - The third tiny bone in the ear. It is moved by the anvil

Cochlea - Spiral tube. When the stirrup moves, fluid inside the cochlea moves. Hearing receptors turn the movement into signals

Auditory nerve - Carries messages from the cochlea to the brain. The brain makes sense of these signals as sounds