The Middle Ear: Structures & Functions

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: How the Inner Ear Supports Hearing and Your Sense of Balance

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Ears
  • 1:13 Eardrum
  • 1:59 Ossicles
  • 3:28 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Your middle ear turns sound waves from the world around you into vibrations, which can be used to make nerve signals for your brain. This is a big job for the tiniest bones of your body. Learn about the little bones, or ossicles, of the middle ear.

Ears

We all know that if we didn't have ears, we wouldn't be able to hear. But, in order for your brain to understand what you are hearing, your ears have to capture sound waves, turn them into vibrations and then create nerve signals that travel to your brain for interpretation. When you think about how many sounds you hear during the day, you can appreciate how much work your ears have to do. The crazy thing is that this big job of hearing is handled, in part, by three of the tiniest bones in your body. In this lesson, you will learn about those tiny bones, which are found in your middle ear and see how they do their job.

Before we do that, it is good to get a general overview of the entire ear. Your ear is made up of three parts: The outer ear is the part you see. It collects sound waves and directs them toward the middle ear, which is the part of your ear we will focus on in this lesson. The middle ear turns sound waves into vibrations. These vibrations are sent to your inner ear, which then uses the vibrations to create nerve signals that travel to your brain.

Eardrum

When sound waves enter your ear they run into your eardrum, which is also called the tympanic membrane; this is a thin membrane that separates the outer ear from the middle ear. You might want to think of the sound waves as the drumsticks that bang on the eardrum, causing it to vibrate.

Did you ever feel your ears 'pop' when you drove up a mountain or flew in an airplane? That happens because the change in elevation changes the air pressure on your eardrum. Your ears adjust to this change thanks to the Eustachian tube, which connects the middle ear to your nose and throat. This tube is like a pressure release valve; when it opens, you feel a 'pop' as pressure is released and equalized on both sides of your eardrum.

Ossicles

The eardrum marks the beginning of the middle ear. This part of your ear is about the size of a pea, and, believe it or not, there are three bones inside. Together, the three bones of the middle ear are referred to as the ossicles. When your eardrum vibrates, that motion is transferred from one bone to the next, just like doing the wave at a sporting event.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support