FRANCIS LEROY, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRANCIS LEROY, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Inner ear anatomy. Artwork showing the anatomy of the inner human ear, the organ of hearing and balance. The ear canal (bottom) leads from the pinna (not seen), the visible part of the ear, to the eardrum (tympanic membrane, green), 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 bottom left to top 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. This includes the cochlea (orange semicircle at right), which translates the vibrations into electrical impulses that are carried to the brain by nerves, and the semi-circular canals (red), which are responsible for balance.
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