Auditory structure – part 1 | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy
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Auditory structure – part 1 | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy

Voiceover: In this video, we’re gonna talk about our sense of sound. Our sense of sound is
also known as audition. In order for us to hear anything, two things have to happen. First, there has to be
some sort of stimulus. In the case of sound, that stimulus is something
known as a sound wave – so, a pressurized sound wave. That’s the first thing
that needs to be present in order for us to hear anything. The second thing, aside from the stimulus, is some sort of receptor that’s sensitive to the stimulus. In the case of audition, that receptor is something
known as a hair cell, and the hair cell is
a specialized receptor that’s found within the cochlea. We’ll discuss this in further
detail later in the video. Let’s take a look at these two things. What exactly is a pressurized sound wave? Let’s look at an example. Whenever you clap your hands, you have learned from
experience that people, when they clap their
hands, it makes a sound, and it makes a very distinct sound. Let’s imagine that these two
lines right here are your hands. When you clap your hands, the lines move towards each other, so your hands are moving
towards each other. They’re moving towards
each other fairly quickly. In between your hands are a whole bunch of little air molecules,
which I’m drawing. These air molecules, which
I’m drawing right now, let’s imagine that they’re
these little purple dots. So, in between your
hands are a whole bunch of these air molecules. They’re just floating
around doing their thing. Then all of a sudden, the hands are moving towards each other, and all of a sudden, this space that these air molecules
occupy gets a lot smaller. A little bit later in time, as the hands are moving
towards each other – so here we are just drawing the
hands almost about to touch. What happened was all these air molecules that are just floating around,
they had all this space.. Now all of a sudden,
they’re really compressed, so they’re really, really close together, and they’re super-compressed. They’re very compacted now. You can imagine that as your
hands are even closer together, that the air molecules
get even more compacted. Basically, what is effectively going on is the air molecules here
are getting pressurized. As you bring your hands together, you’re actually adding
all the molecules up, and it creates this pressure. This area of pressure
actually tries to escape. It tries to escape and
it kinda goes this way. It tries to escape out wherever it can. As it’s escaping, it creates these areas of high and low pressure. That’s what I’m representing
here by these lines. These areas of high and low pressure are known as sound waves. We can have different
types of sound waves. We can have sound waves that are
really, really close together, or really far away from each other. If we draw this graphically, it might look something like this. Basically, what I’m drawing here is, up here would be an area of high pressure. Over here would be an
area of low pressure. Basically, there are just
areas of high and low pressure. How close these peaks are
together is the frequency. If I clap my hands even faster together, or if there’s something else that’s a higher frequency,
a higher-pitched sound, the sound waves would be
closer to one another, and it would look something like this. Depending on the frequency
of the sound wave, it’s perceived to be a different noise. Let’s imagine that this
sound wave right here is F1, and that this one over here is F2. Sound waves of lower frequency
actually travel further. This actually happens in the ear, so these lower frequency sound
waves actually travel further, and they actually penetrate
deeper into the cochlea, which is a structure that we’ll
talk about in a little bit. If you look at these two
different sound waves, they both have different frequencies, but you might have noticed – let’s imagine that this frequency, F1, is generated by hands clapping and F2 is generated by somebody talking. You can actually listen
to both somebody talking and clapping their hands at the same time. What that would look like, if we were to add these
two frequencies together, would be something kinda weird. It might look like this.
It’s not very uniform. If you were to add the
two frequencies together, you’d get this really
weird jumbled frequency, which we’ll label F3. Your ear has a very difficult task now, because it has to actually
break this frequency, F3, down into the two simpler
frequencies, F1 and F2. Your ear is actually able to do that, and it’s able to do that
because the sound waves actually travel different
lengths along the cochlea. Now that we’ve talked about what a pressurized sound wave is, let’s look at the hair cells. In general, let’s look at
the anatomy of the ear. Here we have a diagram of the ear. Like I mentioned before, there are sound waves that
will be coming into the ear. Imagine that I clap my hands. Sound waves are gonna
travel through the ear, and they’re gonna go towards your head. The very first thing that they hit will be this outer visible part of the ear. When you look at someone’s
year, this is what you see. This outer visible part of the ear is something known as the pinna. These sound waves get
funneled by the pinna, down into this smaller structure known as an auditory canal. This is also known as an
external auditory meatus. I’ll write that down here,
so external auditory meatus. These sound waves travel down
the external auditory meatus, and the next thing that
they hit is the eardrum, or tympanic membrane. So, the next thing that
they hit is the eardrum. What the eardrum does is it
actually starts to vibrate. As this pressurized sound
wave hits the eardrum, the eardrum starts
vibrating back and forth. When it’s vibrating back and forth, it actually causes these little bones – there are three little bones
here, one, two and three – it causes these three
little bones to vibrate. The first bone is known as the malleus. The second bone is known as the incus, and the third little bone over
here is known as the stapes. Let’s just recap real quick. The sound waves come in, get funneled by the pinna into
the external auditory meatus, otherwise known as the auditory canal, then hit the eardrum, otherwise known as the tympanic membrane, and the eardrum starts to
vibrate back and forth. This vibration causes three little bones, known as the malleus, incus and stapes to vibrate back and forth accordingly. The next thing that happens is the stapes is attached to this oval window over here. It’s known as the elliptical window, which I’m underlining here. It’s also known as the oval window. This oval window starts to
vibrate back and forth as well. The next thing that happens
is there’s actually fluid, so this structure that the oval window is attached to is known as the cochlea. This round structure right
here is known as the cochlea. Inside the cochlea is a bunch of fluid. As the oval window gets pushed inside and outside of the
cochlea by the stapes, it actually pushes the fluid. It causes the fluid to be pushed this way, and causes the fluid to go all
the way around the cochlea. It keeps going all the
way around the cochlea, until it reaches the tip of the cochlea. When it reaches the tip of the cochlea, what does it do? The only thing it can do is go back. Now the fluid is gonna have to go back. Let’s just follow this
green line over here. The fluid moves back
towards where it came, but it actually doesn’t go
back to the oval window. It actually goes to this other window known as the circular, or round, window. Let me just fix that, so it goes to this
circular or round window. It causes the round
window to get pushed out. This basically keeps happening, so the fluid moves all the
way to the tip of the cochlea, all the way back out, and back and forth, and back and forth, until the energy of this sound wave – eventually the fluid stops moving – all that energy is dissipated. Meanwhile, hair cells inside the cochlea are being pushed back and forth, and that transmits an electrical impulse via this auditory nerve to the brain. The reason that the
fluid doesn’t move back to the oval window when it goes
to the very tip of the cochlea is because in between, in the
very middle of the cochlea, is a membrane. Let me use a different color. There’s actually a membrane. I’m gonna use this black line
to demarcate the membrane that runs along the length of the cochlea. This membrane is something
known as the organ of corti. Let me just write that
down here – organ of corti. This organ of corti is actually composed of two different things. It’s composed of something
known as the basilar membrane, and another membrane known
as the tectorial membrane. tectorial membrane. One final thing that I
just want to touch upon is a general classification of the different parts of the ear. This outermost part of the ear, from the pinna including the
external auditory meatus, so all the way to the tympanic membrane, including the tympanic
membrane or eardrum, is known as the outer, or external, ear. Next, from the malleus
all the way to the stapes, so these three bones, from the
malleus, incus and the stapes, that is known as the middle ear. It looks like there’s an overlap, but I’m just trying to
include this word over here. The middle ear is actually this region. From here to here is the middle ear, whereas the external ear is the region from here all the way out here. The third section includes the cochlea and something known as
the semicircular canals, which we didn’t talk about. That is known as the inner ear. This is the inner ear. Those are the three different
general classifications that we could break the
different structures of the ear down into. Next, what I wanna do
is look at the cochlea a little bit more carefully, and look at how the fluid
motion inside the cochlea actually causes hair cells to fire a neural impulse to the brain, which can then be interpreted as sound.

About James Carlton

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18 thoughts on “Auditory structure – part 1 | Processing the Environment | MCAT | Khan Academy

  1. Can anyone tell me if this video is on the khan academy website as i cant find it or plenty of others anywhere

  2. Nice little introductory video but no offence, do you realise how much detail we actually need to know in med school? This is good for school level, but doesn't even scratch the surface of the depth of knowledge we need in medicine. Really doesn't belong in "khanacademymedicine"

    good explanations though 

  3. You said that the fluid moves all the way to the end of the cochlea and back; infact it is the sound wave (disturbance in the fluid) that moves, right?

  4. I am a pre-med.
    The amount of details we went through in class for hearing science course was IN DETAIL.
    But nice review!

  5. I swear people just read the comments and then make a comment based on that. One guy says something about detail and a bunch of people take it opon themselves to follow suit. Youtube has MILLIONS, literally millions and millions of videos people. I don't think 11 minutes of your time did any damage…

  6. These videos are specifically for Pre-Medical students and these videos are prepared according to the content we are supposed to know for the MCAT. Once we get into Medical School we will learn every detail. These are specially for Pre- Med students like me, so that we can do content review and appear for our MCAT exams. He knows how much to explain for us to understand passages on the MCAT only. If we Pre-Med students dive into each and every details as mentioned in the comments it would take for us another life to come back to earth and appear for exams. So do not worry about the details, WE WILL LEARN ALL THE DETAILS IN MEDICAL SCHOOL. OK…..These are not Medical School lectures FYI

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