CLAUS LUNAU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CLAUS LUNAU / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Human ear anatomy. Computer artwork of the structure of the human ear, showing the outer ear, middle ear and inner ear. The inner ear contains the cochlea (coiled, upper centre), which contains the organ of corti (upper right and lower enlargement). The organ of corti contains four rows of hair cells (green), three to the right (outer hair cells) and one to the left (inner hair cells) topped with stereocilia. These cilia touch the tectorial membrane (purple, upper right) and detect tiny movements caused by sound-induced pressures in the inner ear fluids. The hair cells translate these movements into nerve impulses, which travel to the brain, where they are deciphered as sound. Here the inner hair cells have been damaged and therefore do not transmit sounds at their specific frequencies.
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