Hearing: Hearing Structure and Function

by Thad Wilson, PhD

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    00:00 Hearing and Balance or the Auditory and Vestibular Systems.

    00:09 So when you here the structure function relationship that you’re most concern with is encoding soundwaves into electrical impulses that the brain can understand.

    00:20 So its converting soundwaves to electrical waves, not too unlike what your radio does or even what the cellphone does.

    00:31 What are the different waves in which we need to take into account? Well, first you need to have some sort of pressure disturbance, some a sort of an event to start the wave occurring.

    00:43 The wave will have a certain amplitude, which is the height of the wave.

    00:47 A frequency, which is how often the wave occurs.

    00:51 But when you’ll think about complex sounds, you have things travelling to you at different phases.

    00:58 What we mean here is you’ll have different frequencies going on and those would be offset from one another.

    01:06 Kind of like an echo, echo, echo.

    01:10 That response will occur at different, different wave durations.

    01:20 If you think about what structure and function is.

    01:24 You need to think about the three different portions of the ear.

    01:28 You have the external ear, which is basically funneling in that sound.

    01:34 You have the middle ear, which is involve in amplifying the signal.

    01:40 And then the inner ear is where you’re going to get the actual transduction of that soundwave into an electrical signal.

    01:49 So think about it as, funneling, amplifying and then sensing a particular signal.

    01:56 What are the some of the key structures? The key structures here involve things like the tympanic membrane, which is the first spot in which the inner ear can start amplifying the effects of the sound.

    02:11 You have three different bones: the malleus, incus and stapes that will help transduce that soundwave from the tympanic membrane to the oval window.

    02:25 So if we take a greater look at this response.

    02:29 You have a soundwave that’s entering the ear. It gets funnel down towards the tympanic membrane.

    02:35 At this particular point, the tympanic membrane will start to vibrate.

    02:39 As it vibrates, the various ossicles, which are those inner ear bones will also vibrate.

    02:47 As they vibrate, they can then stimulate the oval window to start vibrating.

    02:54 So basically, you’re moving in that soundwave via vibrations.

    03:00 Now, are there any ways to modulate the amount of vibration? Sure.

    03:05 This transduction can be regulated by dampening in a response.

    03:09 How do you dampened that? By causing muscle contraction to prevent some of that vibration from moving through.

    03:16 The different muscles that you could use to do this are the tensor tympani as well as the stapedius.

    03:24 How do we get that soundwave into the inner ear? Through this process, we really want to think about, where that last ossicles vibrated on.

    03:35 It was the oval window. And then, how that’s going to be transfer it down to cochlea? The other item to think about for the cochlea is it’s actually divided into three different chambers.

    03:46 You have first have a top chamber.

    03:49 And this top chamber is filled with perilymph.

    03:53 You have a middle chamber which has your Organ of Corti in it, and this has endolymph in it.

    03:59 And finally, the bottom most layer which is also filled with perilymph.

    04:05 The importance of these three chamber component, is that sound is gonna travel through the places with perilymph and it’s gonna be sense at the places with endolymph.

    04:17 So the actual sense process occurs within this inner chamber not that outermost or the bottommost chamber.

    04:26 If we roll out the cochlea, you can probably see this better.

    04:31 So you’re going to have a oval window in which the stapes is going to vibrate against.

    04:36 It’s going to travel down that upper component, across and down the bottom.

    04:44 You can see this as is footplate vibrates against the oval window.

    04:49 The sound is then transferred all the way to the apex of the cochlea.

    04:54 And then it transfers a crossed the apex and down along the basal chamber.

    05:02 If you think about, what is it vibrating against? That is the organ of Corti or where the hair cells are located.

    05:11 So one is the transmission of the sound. The other is the sense organ.

    05:16 You noticed that there’s also a round window at the end of the perilymph field vesicle.

    05:24 This round window allows for vibrations to occur within the whole fluid field system.

    05:31 If you didn't have a place to relieve that vibration, you would not be able to transmit a signal into it.

    05:38 You need to have that ability to both vibrate one side, as well as have the opposite vibrate so that you can transmit that vibration or soundwave.

    05:52 How these works? Is the sound causes the stapes to move against a window and the pressure travels down against the organ of Corti.

    06:05 So by pushing down in certain spots, think of it like, kind of like the waterbed, where you’re pushing down on the certain part, You’re be living that up. It has then been sensed as a pressure change in the membrane below.

    06:23 As it travels around the apex and back, you’ll be pushing now up against that organ of Corti.

    06:34 So you have now thoughts of as a wave enters in gone from the oval window.

    06:41 There’s certain spots that will hit on, then it will travel around the apex. And then, there’s certain spots it will hit on the way back to the round window.

    06:55 It is this resignating portion of where the soundwaves hit will allow for which particular hair cells to fire.

    07:06 So there gonna be hair cells along the whole distance from the base to the apex in the organ of Corti.

    07:17 Hair cells are very specific in how they work. So let’s go through this process now.

    07:23 You have hair cells that are located on an inner.

    07:27 And then hair cells are located on the outer portion of the membrane.

    07:33 Here the inner cell once, are the once that fire to tell you what particular frequency is soundwave is.

    07:41 The outer hair cells although they’re more numerous, are there to provide additional information.

    07:47 Such as, maybe a description or a ability to have better acuity of the sound.

    07:55 But the inner hair cells tell you what frequency the response is.

    08:01 So you may ask, how can a membrane, this tactile membrane that’s floating down over these hair cells cause a response? Well, if it’s pushing down the tactile membrane you can think about that pushing against the hair cells.

    08:17 If it’s coming all the way back around the apex back towards the round window, it’s pushing the membrane up against the tactile membrane.

    08:29 So whether the tactile membrane is being push down or the whole basilar membrane is pushing the hair cells up, either way you can get stimulation of these particular hair cells.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Hearing: Hearing Structure and Function by Thad Wilson, PhD is from the course Neurophysiology.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Inner hair cells
    2. Outer hair cells
    3. Scala vestibule cells
    4. Scala tympani cells
    1. Middle ear
    2. Malleus
    3. External ear
    4. Internal ear
    5. Incus
    1. Middle chamber
    2. Upper chamber
    3. Lower chamber
    4. Posterior chamber
    5. Anterior chamber
    1. Inner hair cells
    2. Outer hair cells
    3. Tympanic membrane
    4. Stapes
    5. Incus
    1. Stapedius
    2. Tensor veli palatini
    3. Lateral pterygoid
    4. Medial pterygoid

    Author of lecture Hearing: Hearing Structure and Function

     Thad Wilson, PhD

    Thad Wilson, PhD

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    By Marcela S. on 24. October 2018 for Hearing: Hearing Structure and Function

    Great explanation, easy to follow. It helped me a lot to understand how hearing works.

    By Ali A. on 16. March 2018 for Hearing: Hearing Structure and Function

    Very nice, short and high lead video , I liked it a lot