The major task of the ear is to detect, transmit and transduce sound. Another very important function of the ear is to maintain our sense of balance.
The best way to describe the functioning of the ear is to describe the path which the sound waves take on their way through the ear. In the video you can see the journey of the sound waves through the ear.
The sound waves travel from the outer ear and in through the auditory canal, causing the eardrum, or tympanic membrane, to vibrate. This, in turn, causes the three small bones, known as the ossicles, or the hammer, the anvil and the stirrup, in the middle ear to move. The vibrations move via the oval window through the fluid in the cochlea in the inner ear, stimulating thousands of tiny hair cells. This results in the transformation of the vibrations into electrical impulses finally perceived by the brain as sound.
The ear consists of many small parts, but can be divided into three major parts:
On these pages, you can read comprehensive descriptions of the parts of the ear and how they function.