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Gallaudet Univeristy
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Understanding the Ear

Knowing the different parts of the ear will help you understand the types and causes of hearing loss better. After you finish reading the information on this page, go to Types and Causes of Hearing Loss.

  • Outer Ear: The outside of the ear, plus the ear canal up to the eardrum or tympanic membrane.
  • Middle Ear: The cavity behind the tympanic membrane which houses three small bones that help conduct sound waves to the inner ear.
  • Inner Ear: The cavity behind the middle ear houses a series of channels known as the labyrinth, and a snail-shaped structure called the cochlea. The labyrinth is integral to the human balance system. The cochlea contains the thousands of nerves responsible for sensing sound and transmitting it to the brain for processing.
  • Auditory Nerve: The eighth cranial nerve, which is the pathway of sound from the ear to the brain.

ear diagram

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