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Spotlight on the Cochlea

Thursday, June 9, 2016 7:09:02 PM Australia/Melbourne

The ear is a work of science and art. It’s so complex and intricate, a machine that needs to be fine-tuned in order to work properly. It’s made up of many important parts, who all operate in parallel like an orchestra playing a beautiful symphony. At Hearlink we believe that knowledge is power and that when our patients and customers are armed with comprehensive knowledge of the working of your ear, then you’re set up for success when it comes to your hearing. So moving forward we’re kicking off a series of posts, profiling the scientific workings of different parts of your ear. Today, we kick off with one such instrument in the orchestra of your ear-- your cochlea.


Spotlight on the CochleaWhat exactly is your cochlea? It’s the auditory portion of the inner ear. Its name comes from ancient Greek origins, meaning spiral or snail shell. Your ear does sort of look like a small shell you’d find on the beach, doesn’t it?


In reality, it’s the spiral-esque cavity in the bony maze. It makes 2.5 turns around the modiolus, which is its axis. One of the most important parts of the cochlea is the organ of corti. The organ of corti is your sensory organ related to your earing. There is a partition that separates fluid chambers within the tube of the cochlea which is tapered. The corti is distributed along this tube.


Within the cochlea, there are many elements:

  • Three chambers, also known as scalae- the tympanic duct (inferior to the cochlear duct, it ends at the round window), the vestibular duct (it contains perilymph, is adjacent to the oval window and lies superior to the cochlear duct), and the cochlear duct (it contains endolymph, and is a region of heavily concentrated potassium ions that the stereocilia of the many different hair cells can project into).
  • The helicotrema- the helicotrema is where the vestibular duct and tympanic duct come together. This is at the base of the cochlea.
  • The basilar membrane- the basilar membrane is what keeps the cochlear duct away from the tympanic duct. It’s a main element within the cochlea and plays an important role. It’s responsible for determining the propagation properties of the mechanical wave.
  • The Reissner membrane- the Reissner’s membrane keeps the vestibular duct separate from the cochlear duct.
  • The organ of corti- We talked about the corgan of corti briefly above. It’s the sensory epithelium. This is a layer of cells on the basilar membrane. The senses of your hair cells are driven and powered by the difference between the endolymph and the perilymph.
  • The hair cells of the cochlea- these are not the kind of hairs that you want to dye or groom, these are sensory cells in the organ of corti. These are also briefly mentioned above. They’re topped with structures called sterocilia, which very closely resemble hair.


When you bring the above players together, you assemble a dream team which helps to drive the health of your ear.

Posted in Industry News By

Hearlink Admin