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The auditory periphery—the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear—is designed to collect and amplify sound waves and to separate their different frequencies into nerve pathways that can allow the brain to determine the meaning of a sound (see color insert, Figure 3). This conduction pathway is crucial to surviving in a rich auditory environment. This entry first describes the process of sound conduction and then discusses the elements of the auditory periphery.

Sound Conduction

The vibrations caused by sound stimuli are converted by the auditory system into electrical signals that are sent along the auditory nerve to the brain. The outer ear and middle ear ensure that the vibrations are transmitted efficiently to the inner ear where fluid movements occur that can be detected by ...

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