Hearing occurs when sound waves reach the structures inside your ear. Here, the sound wave vibrations are converted into nerve signals that your brain recognises as sound.
Your ear consists of three major areas:
– outer ear
– middle ear
– inner ear
Sound waves pass through the outer ear and cause vibrations at the eardrum. The eardrum and the three small bones of the middle ear amplify these vibrations as they travel to the inner ear. There, the vibrations pass through fluid in a snail-shaped structure in the inner ear called the cochlea.
Attached to nerve cells in the cochlea are thousands of tiny hairs that help to translate sound vibrations into electrical signals that are transmitted to your brain.
The vibrations of different sounds affect these tiny hairs in different ways, causing the nerve cells to send different signals to your brain. That’s how you distinguish one sound from another.