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Hearing: Glossary

A

amplitude
the loudness of a sound. It is measured in decibels
anatomy
the study of all the parts of an organism
anvil
the second of 3 bones in the middle ear, also called the incus. See ossicles
auditory canal
the passage from the outer ear to the middle ear
auditory nerve
the auditory nerve, takes nerve signals from the cochlea and the semicircular canals and makes connections with the auditory areas of the brain
auditory receptor cells
auditory receptor cells, also called hair cells, are located in the cochlea. Hair cells are not renewed when they die or are damaged

C

cell
the smallest structural unit of an organism that is capable of independent functioning
cochlea
the coiled inner ear, which is filled with fluid. The cochlea sends sound vibrations to special nerves. Cochlea comes from the Greek word for "snail" and is a coiled structure that makes about two and one-half turns

D

decibels
the loudness of sound is measured in units called decibels (dB).This is the force of sound waves against the ear. The louder the sound, the more decibels

E

eardrum
the flap of skin between the outer ear and the inner ear. It is stretched tight like the skin of a drum. It is also called tympanum
Eustacian tube
the tube that connects the middle ear to the back of the nose. This tube allows the air pressure in the middle ear to be the same as the air pressure outside the ear

F

frequency
the number of times a sound vibrates in a second. The higher the frequency, the higher the sound. Frequency is measured in cycles per second (cps), and is called Hertz (Hz)

H

hammer
the first of 3 middle ear bones, also called the malleus. It is connected to the eardrum. See ossicles

I

inner ear
the part of the ear that takes sound vibrations, turns them into nerve signals and sends them to the brain. The cochlea, with its tiny hairs, and semi circular canals (which help us with our balance) are located here

M

middle ear
The hammer, anvil and stirrup are the three tiny bones that make up the middle ear. It is an air-filled area that is behind the eardrum. The middle ear takes sound waves and turns them into vibrations that move to the inner ear

O

organ of corti
the sensitive element in the cochlea inner ear and can be thought of as the body's microphone
ossicles
the 3 smallest bones in the body, located in the middle ear. Popularly known as the hammer, anvil and stirrup. They transmit the sound waves from the outer ear to the cochlea
outer ear
includes the pinna and the ear canal

P

pinna
also called the outer ear. It collects sounds before they are funneled into the inner ear
pitch
the frequency of a sound

S

semi-circular canals
three tubes in the inner ear that control balance
stirrup
the third of three bones in the middle ear, also called the stapes. See ossicles

T

tympanum
another word for the eardrum
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