General Functions
Studies on the Human Ear

General Functions

Working together, the outer, middle, and inner ears perform acts of incredible sensitivity, strength, and virtuosity. This includes the diverse functions of sound detection, transmission, amplification, analysis and conversion.

A normal human ear discriminates among some 400 thousand different sounds within a span of about 10 octaves, which vary in pitch from the high squeak of a bird whistle, to the low hum of a fog horn, and range in loudness from a slight whisper, to a crashing thunder-clap at close range.

The human ear can make the fine distinction between the music played by a violin or viola. It can reject the overall noise of a social gathering while picking out a single familiar voice.

A sound so weak that it causes the eardrum to vibrate less than the diameter of a single hydrogen molecule can be heard. And yet a sound ten-million times stronger will not damage the hearing mechanism.

Even during sleep, the ear functions with unusual efficiency because the brain is capable of selecting and interpreting signals which are continuously transmitted through the ear.

The hearing mechanism is also capable of creating sounds, strictly within the ear.