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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.

Figure 3 Auditory Receptors and Transduction—Hair Cells of the Mammalian Cochlea

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Note: (a) Cross-section through the sensory epithelium (organ of Corti) in the middle chamber of the cochlea. (Blue arrows) Sound moves the basilar membrane up and down, bending the hair bundles of inner and outer hair cells against the tectorial membrane. (b ...

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