The Human Ear Facts and Functions of the Ear - An Organ of Hearing

The Human Ear – Organ of Audioception:

Only few gifted creatures on earth have specifically designed organs to cater the hearing function. Most organisms have these auditory organs in disguise and with shared functionalities. Humans are one of such gifted species. The human ear is a device to enjoy the sweet music of nature. There are two ears, each located on either side of the face, in perfect symmetry with those of the facial features. Beside other things, in this article, you will also come across some interesting human ear facts.

Human Ear Diagram:

As you can see in the human ear diagram, it is designed in such a way that it captures the maximum auditory stimuli from the atmosphere and transfers them to the brain for translating into hearing response. Three major parts of a human ear are the outer, middle and inner respectively, each having its own functions, anatomy and ear diseases as well.

The Human Ear Facts and Functions

External Ear Anatomy:

The external ear anatomy is the study of the parts of the outer ear. There are two major parts of the external ear, i.e. the pinna and the external acoustic meatus. Pinna or the auricle lies externally and its main job is to capture the sound waves and transmit them to the external acoustic meatus. Most of the framework of the auricle is cartilaginous in nature. Here lobule is the only structure which does not have the support of cartilage.

The external acoustic meatus, on the other hand, is a tube like structure that extends from the middle hollow depression or concha of the auricle. At the other end, it reaches the tympanic membrane. It has a cartilaginous structure and gets the bony support from the temporal bone. The branches of vagus and mandibular nerves provide sensory innervation to this particular part of your external ear.

Do you know if the external acoustic meatus travel in the straight path? Well, this is not the case. In fact, it has got an S-shaped path.

Fun facts on Ears:

Ever watched the ears of an elephant? The way they wave through air as the giant mammal moves? Human ears are equally funny and interesting to explore, let jump in to the venture now.

  • Limits of The Human Ear: The human ear helps the people to detect sound, but it has its limits as well. So when the auditory stimuli exceed the prescribed decibels, our ears go ringing buzz, buzz. Want to try it? Get your best friend's help to shout at your ears.
  • Maintenance of Balance: Ears are responsible for the equilibrium and balance of the body. That is why the inner ear has direct connection with the brain. If anything goes wrong with the inner ear, we would have to go merry-go-round all day.
  • Ears as Garbage Cans: Ears, like garbage cans, pick up all sounds and auditory symbols from the atmosphere. Afterwards, they send them to the brain which is the higher center that makes sense of the useful sounds, neglecting the rest.
  • Ear Housing the Smallest Bone of the Body: The middle ear contains three small bones. One of them, the stapes, is the smallest bone in the human body. These bones behave like drum and sticks to transmit the sounds from middle to the inner ear.

Interesting Facts About Human Ears:

  • Link between Cold and Dumbness: Do you know about one of the amazing ear facts that there is a connection between the middle ear and the throat? This connection develops through a tube, i.e. the Eustachian tube. This is the very reason behind your going dumb every time you catch cold. The main function of the tube is to equalize the pressure between the atmosphere and the body.
  • Disturbance in Equilibrium: At higher pressures, and on mountain tops, it is common for people to go dumb. Meanwhile, they experience a disturbing feeling in their ears. It is because the Eustachian tube is unable to maintain equilibrium in body pressure.
  • Strength of Temporal Bone: According to the opinion of many people, femur is the hardest, longest and strongest bone in human body. But it does mean that the temporal bone is less in strength, i.e. it is equally hard and strong.
  • Remove Wax & Damage The Ear: Ear produces its own wax to protect itself from friction and dust. So, if you make frequent attempt to remove this wax, it may damage the tympanic membrane in the ears causing deafness.

Functions of the Ear

The major functions of the ear are to maintain the balance and equilibrium of the body and to aid in hearing capabilities. For example, the ear has three main portions, each having its own role to play. The outer ear is the pinna, and its function is to gather the sound waves like a funnel and transmit to the middle ear through the ear canal.

The ear drum or the tympanic membrane covers the other end of the canal. Well, less common function of the ear lobe is to bear accessories such as earrings. The ear rings compliment the beauty of a girl and also guys these days.

How the Ear Works

Do you know exactly how the ear works? The sound waves that strike at the ear drum set it on vibration. This vibration then travels to the three small bones of the middle ear, (the malleus, stapes and incus). The bones of the middle ear, on the other hand, make specific movements and hit at the oval window.

Different parts of the ear and their functions are very important for hearing. The vestibular window separates the middle ear from the inner ear. The inner ear is also termed as cochlea, which is a dual membrane delicate structure, with fluids filled between the membranes and lined with hair cells. The movement of the hair cells that line cochlea, in response to the sound waves, is like that of grasses in the meadows. It serves to sends electrical impulses to the brain, i.e. the master organ, that accurately identifies the sounds we hear.

About the Author

Posted by: M. Isaac / Senior writer

A graduate in biological sciences and a PhD scholar (NCBA&E University, Lahore), M. Isaac combines his vast experience with a keen and critical eye to create practical and inherently engaging content on the human body. His background as a researcher and instructor at a secondary school enables him to best understand the needs of the beginner level learners and the amateur readers and educate them about how their body works, and how they can adopt a healthier lifestyle.

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