eli5 how ears work


I was on the bus, head on the side with my music on, the bus rattling away and I starting thinking how am I hearing the music so clearly? Since the ears ‘hear’ sound through vibrations (to my limited knowledge) and wondered what makes it special as to not be even a tiny bit interrupted or influenced by the vibrations from the bus going through my skull.

In: 1

It’s not really the ear that’s special. All it does is transfer any and all vibrations of the eardrum (and parts of the jawbone) to electrical signals for your brain.

The brain is the interesting part. It is able to parse the difference between music and the low hum of bus rattling and can focus in on the music because that’s what you want to hear.

It *is* influenced by the vibrations from the bus. That’s why buses are noisy.

The vibrations you feel with your body, though, are too low-frequency for you to hear. They’re at frequencies around 1-10 Hz (Hertz = vibrations per second), and the lower end of hearing is around 40 Hz.

Your outer ear is nothing more than a block of cartilage that funnels noise into your ear canal.

Your inner ear is where all the magic happens.

Sounds are vibrations in the air. This vibrates your ear drum which is a small piece of flesh at the end of your ear canal.

These vibrations are then transfers to the cochlea by 3 tiny bones called the Malleus, the Incus, and the Stapes.

The cochlea is a snail shell shaped organ that is lined with tiny hairs called cilia. These are vibrated by sound and then send signals to your brain via the auditory nerves.

As for how you filter out certain noises or focus on others, that happens within your Brain. You are always hearing everything, but you learn to filter out noises over time.

This isn’t probably an answer specific to your question but it was an interesting video I saw about ears a while back.