The ear is an organ from the auditory system that collects sounds, and also balances and enables body position.
Formation and Orientation
The ear can be broken down into the inner and outer ears. The outer part of the ear is the visible flap (auricle) and ear canal which collects sounds which create pressure that echoes through the middle ear. The inner ear, however, is embedded in the temporal bone. There are hollow areas of the inner ear that are filled with liquids and hair cells which are stimulated by sound waves and then releases a chemical neurotransmitter. These nerve impulses go to the eighth cranial nerve to the temporal lobe of the cerebral cortex.
The outer ear includes the auricle, ear canal and the outer layer of the ear drum. Here, ear wax is created.
The middle ear is located behind the tympanic membrane and includes three bones called the malleus, incus and stapes. The beginning of the Eustachian tube is also located in the middle portion of the ear. This tube connects the nasopharynx to the air-filled chamber of the middle ear.
The inner ear is formed by the cochlea, vestibule and semicircular canals. The cochlea is the hearing portion of the inner ear while both the vestibule and semicircular canals are sensory portions. Hair cells located in the inner ear also help with balance.
Overall, both the inner and outer ears are responsible for the gathering and the translation of audible sounds to observations.
Image Caption: A diagram of the anatomy of the human ear. Credit: Chittka L, Brockmann/Wikipedia (CC BY 2.5)