FRANCIS LEROY & ALEXANDRE TESSIER, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY FRANCIS LEROY & ALEXANDRE TESSIER, BIOCOSMOS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Frequency detection in the human ear. Animation showing the structure of the middle and inner ear (upper left) and the mechanism for detecting frequency. Frequency is detected by the basilar membrane (red) in the cochlear of the inner ear. Here the cochlear (grey tube at centre) is shown uncoiled. The basilar membrane becomes progressively wider and less stiff as it extends away from the start of the cochlear. This creates different resonant properties along the membrane, meaning that certain frequencies vibrate certain areas more than others. Vibration of the membrane displaces sensory hairs within the cochlear that translate the vibrations into electrical impulses that are carried to the brain by nerves.
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