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This 7-minute video by Brandon Pletsch takes viewers on a step-by-step voyage through the inside of the ear, to the acoustic accompaniment of classical music. Pletsch, a former medical illustration student at the Medical College of Georgia, first built a physical ear model and mapped which frequency ranges hit which parts of the inner ear. He then created digital renderings of each part of the hearing pathway using several software packages. A narrator describes how the sound waves travel through each portion of the ear, and how hair cells translate the vibrations they induce into nerve impulses.
The Auditory Pathways
The auditory center, in the brain, shown above in red, is concerned with hearing. Although shown here on the outer surface of the brain, most of this area lies within the temporal lobes and is found within the surface of the cerebral cortex on both sides of the brain. The auditory pathways begin in the nerve fibers of the organ of Corti in the inner ear, where sound waves are converted to nerve impulses. These impulses travel in the auditory nerve to the auditory cortex of the brain. During their passage to the auditory center, some of the auditory nerve fibers cross in the brain stem. This results in the sound which enters one ear passing to both cortices. The impulses are relayed in the lateral lemnisci and from there, via the medial geniculate nuclei, to the auditory cortices in the temporal lobes of the brain, where sound is perceived.
The auditory system has three parts: the outer, middle and inner ear. Learn about hearing loss, hearing tests and hearing aids from a professional audiologist in this free health video.
Expert: M.J. DeSousa
Bio: M.J. DeSousa is Chief Audiologist and one of the founders of ListenUP! and is responsible for staffing and clinical practices, including all Audiology.
Filmmaker: Kevin Fletcher
Get the iBook for iPad on Auditory Processing Disorder
Video interviews and transcripts with specialist, Devon Barnes.
Get help with Auditory Processing Disorder
Clinical director Devon Barnes begins the discussion on Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) by explaining the difference between hearing and processing. What is auditory processing disorder? What's going on when the brain does the processing, and where is it happening in the brain?
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Hair cells are columnar cells, each with a bundle of 100-200 specialized cilia at the top, for which they are named. There are two types of hair cells. Inner hair cells are the mechanoreceptors for hearing: they transduce the vibration of sound into electrical activity in nerve fibers, which is transmitted to the brain. Outer hair cells are a motor structure. Sound energy causes changes in the shape of these cells, which serves to amplify sound vibrations in a frequency specific manner. Afferent neurons innervate cochlear inner hair cells, at synapses where the neurotransmitter glutamate communicates signals from the hair cells to the dendrites of the primary auditory neurons. The primary auditory cortex is the first region of cerebral cortex to receive auditory input. Perception of sound is associated with the left posterior superior temporal gyrus. The superior temporal gyrus contains several important structures of the brain, including Brodmann areas 41 and 42, marking the location of the primary auditory cortex, the cortical region responsible for the sensation of basic characteristics of sound such as pitch and rhythm.
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