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external ear

outer structures of the ear that collect sound


auricle (little ear); projected part of the external ear (pinna=feather)

external auditory meatus or canal

external passage for sounds collected from the pinna to the tympanum


a waxy substance secreted by glands located throughout the external canal

middle ear

structures in the middle of the ear that vibrate sound from the tympanic membrane to the inner ear

tympanic membrane (TM)

eardrum; drum-like structure that receives sound collected in the external auditory canal and amplifies it through the middle ear


hammer; first of the three auditory ossicles of the middle ear


anvil; middle of the three auditory ossicles of the middle ear


stirrup; last of the three auditory ossicles of the middle ear

eustachian tube, auditory tube

tube connecting the middle ear to the pharynx (throat)

oval window

membrane that covers the opening between the middle ear and inner ear

inner ear, labyrinth

intricate, fluid-filled, intercommunicating bony and membraneous passages that function in hearing by relaying sound waves to auditory nerve fibers on a path to the brain for interpretation; also sense body movement and position to maintain balance and equilibrium (labyrinth=maze)


coiled tubular structure of the inner ear that contains the organ of Corti (cochlea=small)


fluid that fills the bony labyrinth of the inner ear


fluid within the membraneous labyrinth of the inner ear

organ of Corti

structure located in the cochlea; contains receptors (hair cells) that receive vibrations and generate nerve impulses for hearing


middle part of the inner ear, in front of the semicircular canals and behind the cochlea, that contains the utricle and the saccule; functions to provide body balance and equilibrium


the larger of two sacs within the membraneous labyrinth of the vestibule in the inner ear (uter=leather bag)


the smaller of the two sacs within the membraneous labyrinth of the vestibule in the inner ear (sacculus=small bag)

semicircular canals

three canals within the inner ear that contain specialized receptro cells that generate nerve impulses with body movement

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