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How your ears process sound

Your ears are an amazing yet very complex part of your body, they have an amazing job of taking sounds and transporting them to the brain for processing – all at incredible speed!

It is a complex process of the brain utilising sound waves and transforming them into signals that can be interpreted and understood.

The process broken down may look something like this:

  • Transduction of acoustic information (in other words transported) from the outer ear to middle ear and then to the cochlea
  • Transformation of sound vibrations to neural signals
  • Signals are relayed and transmitted to the auditory brain stem
  • The brain stem processes and sends the signals to the part in your brain called the Thalamus (Thalamus is responsible for relaying information to the Cerebral Cortex).
  • The Cerebral Cortex processes information, memory and attention.
  • The signal is projected to the auditory cortex which extracts specific acoustic information such as; pitch, timbre and intensity

This is truly an amazing process and to think that all of those things happen so quickly! Our ears have the ability to transport the sound waves to the brain which then translates, transports and interprets the needed info.

The ear continuously picks up sound signals whether we are awake or asleep. Have you every wondered why you wake up when there is an alarm or a baby crying? That is because sound signals are still being sent to our ears when we sleep it is the other parts of the brain that decide how those signals are going to be transported or interpreted.

So look after your ears they are the first and most essential step in the process of interpreting sound. Be aware of how loud you listen to your music, how long you have headphones in, what environmental sounds are constant within your day and whether or not you can start to take some precautionary actions to look after a very essential part of your body.

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