The cochlea is the portion of the inner ear devoted to hearing. It is a spiralling, fluid-filled tunnel embedded in the temporal bone. Within the cochlea, fluid-borne mechanical signals are transformed into the neural code delivered by the auditory nerve to the brain.
When air pressure in front of the eardrum increases, the eardrum is pushed inward, moving the three small bones of the middle ear: the malleus, incus, and stapes. The footplate of the stapes covers the oval window of the cochlea. Movement of the stapes initiates a pressure wave in the cochlear fluid. The figure below shows the location of the cochlea in relation to the other parts of the ear.
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Return to Cochlear Mechanics or proceed to Inside the Cochlea.