Skip to content

How the Ear Works: How the Brain Knows What You Hear

Young Woman's EarOur ears have the tricky job of converting sound waves in the air into nerve signals for our brains to interpret.

When sound waves travel from air to liquid as they must to enter the body, they are partially reflected so they have less energy and sound quieter. The ear prevents the sound from being lost, by easing the wave energy of the sound into the ear step by step.

Sound waves travel down the ear canal and cause the ear drum to vibrate. This vibration passes through three stops and then enters the cochlear, which is connected to sensitive brain cells.

Different sounds therefore cause deflection of different brain cells. The brain deduces the pitch of the sound using the position of the disturbed cells. The information in the sound including its pitch, tone, rhythm and intensity is converted to electrical signals to be sent to the brain for analysis. Exactly how the information is encoded is still unknown.

Our brains determine what the sound is, where it is coming from and how we feel about it. The best way to help our ears work well is to ensure our spines and nervous systems are regularly aligned.

As well as hearing our ears are responsible for keeping our balance and telling us how and in which direction we are moving.

They do this using a set of organs in the inner ear.

Inside our ears, there are three canals with fluid sitting at 90 degrees to each other. The relative motion of the fluid tells the brains in what direction we are moving.

Why does alcohol make your head spin?

Alcohol builds up quickly in the cupulas (this is a gelatinous mass) of the inner ear and makes them float in their canals. When you lie down the cupulas are disturbed and the brain thinks you are spinning.

Add Your Comment (Get a Gravatar)

Your Name


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *.