HEARING & Balance
Both hearing and balance occur within the ear. In hearing, sound waves pass from the outer ear into the auditory canal. They strike the eardrum, making it vibrate. These vibrations travel to the middle ear, setting into motion three tiny bones: the hammer, anvil, and stirrup. The vibrations continue through the cochlea and deep into the inner ear, which contain a fluid reservoir. As fluid ripples across membranes, it stirs tiny hairs connected to nerve endings. The stimulated nerve endings carry impulses into the brain where they are interpreted as sound. Also located in the inner ear is the equilibrium, or balance center. The center sends continuous messages about the body's position to the brain. This information helps us maintain balance.