Inner ear anatomy

Inner ear anatomy

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Credit: GUNILLA ELAM/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Inner ear anatomy. Computer artwork of a section through the inner part of a human ear, the organ of hearing and balance. The ear canal (centre left) leads from the pinna (not seen), the visible part of the ear, to the eardrum (tympanic membrane, grey, centre left), which separates the outer and middle ear. The eardrum transmits sounds, as vibrations, from the air to the bones (ossicles), of the middle ear. These bones, from left to right, are the malleus (hammer), incus (anvil) and stapes (stirrup). The ossicles join to the inner ear, which consists of fluid-filled passages called the labyrinth (white, right). This includes the cochlea (spiral), which translates the vibrations into electrical impulses that are carried to the brain by nerves (light pink), and the semi-circular canals, which are responsible for balance.

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