How hearing works

A small girl whispering secretively into her grandmother's ear.

Hearing is the process of perceiving sound

Sound waves travel down the ear canal and hit the eardrum, causing it to vibrate. These vibrations are carried into the inner ear, which converts them into electrical signals and sends them to the brain.

How the parts of the ear work together

Your ear can be divided into three parts. The outer ear and middle ear help collect and amplify sound. The inner ear converts sound waves to signals that are sent to the brain.

Outer ear

This is the visible part of the ear, which collects sound waves and directs them into the ear canal, towards your eardrum.

Middle ear

When sound hits the eardrum, it vibrates. These vibrations are transferred through the ossicles, which are small bones that amplify and transmit the vibrations to the inner ear.

Inner ear

In the inner ear, the vibrations enter the cochlea, where they set the fluid inside into motion. 15,000 sensory ‘hair’ cells convert sound the motions into electrical impulses.

Interesting facts about hearing


The smallest bones in your body are the ossicles in the middle ear: the incus, the malleus, and the stapes


Our ears never stop working, even when you sleep - your brain still hears the incoming sounds


Ears are more than just necessary for hearing; the inner ear also help you keep your balance