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Quiz - Ears

Our ears are fascinating organs

Our ears are fascinating organs

Q.1 The ear does which of the following jobs:
a) Collects sounds
b) Processes sounds
c) Sends sound signals to your brain
d) All of the above
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d) All of the above. The ear, or more correctly the ’hearing complex’ is made up of many intricate parts that serve a number of processes. The outer ear collects sound and channels it into the resonating temporal bone of the skull sending the sound waves into the middle ear via the eardrum. Connected to the eardrum, within the middle ear, is a mechanical gearing mechanism made up of the three tiny bones called the ’ossicles’ (more later). These three bones mechanically magnify, and process the sound, before transmitting it into the inner ear where the neurological hub of the hearing complex is housed. This neurological hub sends sound information via nerve signals to the brain. The other role of the ‘neurological hub’ is to provide vital information to the brain for balance and fine motion of the head.

Q.2 Ears help you keep your balance:
a) True
b) False
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a) True. The inner ear is partly made up of 3 tubes of fluid which are looped around in a circle and are positioned at different angles. When your head moves the fluid inside these tubes stays still, just like tea inside a tea cup stays still when the cup is rotated. Small hairs which protrude into the fluid send signals to your brain about the movement of the fluid relative to the inner ear. This provides a sense of motion. When this goes wrong or there is debris floating around in the fluid you will have trouble with balance. If you have been spinning around for some time, the fluid will continue to spin in the semicircular canals resulting in dizziness.

Q.3 Which part of the ear takes sound waves and turns them into vibrations?
a) Ear canal
b) Inner ear
c) Eardrum
d) Middle ear
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d) Middle ear. See Question 4

Q.4 What are the most delicate bones in your body called?
a) Cochlea
b) Soft bones
c) Ossicles
d) Auricle
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c) Ossicles. These bones, the malleus (hammer), incus (anvil) and stapes (stirrup) are the smallest in the body and sit in the middle ear between the ear drum and the inner ear. As vibrations strike the eardrum the ossicles act as a gearing mechanism (like cogs in a clock) taking the sound waves from the eardrum and transmitting them to the sensitive nerve of the inner ear. These nerves recognise these vibrations and send them as nerve signals to the part of the brain responsible for hearing.

Q.5 Which of the following is a good way to take care of your ears?
a) Wear earplugs at loud music concerts
b) Don’t poke your ears with cotton swabs
c) Keep the volume down on your music player
d) All of the above
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d) All of the above. The ears are a sensitive structure and can be easily and permanently damaged. Wearing earplugs at loud music concerts, lowering the volume on your music player and keeping foreign objects such as cotton buds out of your ears is just common sense.

Q.6 Which tiny bone is attached to the eardrum? (Hint: We hope you “nail” this one)
a) Malleus (hammer)
b) Incus (anvil)
c) Stapes (stirrup)
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a) Malleus (hammer). See question 4 for details. These bones are named according to their shape, not function, so don’t be alarmed that you have a hammer against your ear drum or that you carry a heavy anvil every where you go!

Q.7 What separates the outer ear from the middle ear?
a) Auricle
b) The ear wall
c) Eardrum
d) Cochlea
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c) Eardrum. This is a sensitive and important structure that stops debris, infection and foreign objects from getting into the important structures of the ear. It is also the resonating ‘soundboard’ which allows sound waves to become vibrations that begin the process of hearing. If infection builds up behind the ear drum it can lead to significant pain. This is why in some children a ‘grommet’ can be inserted which allows pressure to ease. This release of pressure should be undertaken by the eustachian tube. (See Question 9)

Q 8. Fluid moving in the _______causes you to feel dizzy after you stop spinning.

a) Eustachian tubes
b) Semicircular canals
c) Erie canals
d) Ear canals
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b) Semicircular canals. See Question 2

Q.9 What part of your ear allows the ‘popping’ that happens when you fly?

a) Liberty tube
b) Eustachian tube
c) Auditory nerve
d) Cochlear tube
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b) Eustachian tube. This tube connects the middle ear to the back of your nose and it allows for drainage of fluid and for pressure to be released. It is small however and can become narrowed or blocked by the swelling of soft tissues locally. The resulting buildup in pressure, either in an aircraft or if infection is present, can be extremely painful. Popping in your ears is when the pressure inside the middle ear is balanced with the pressure outside it, which often gives great relief and improves hearing. This is different from when water is trapped in the outer ear after swimming, although the effect can be similar.

Q.10 Which part of the ear is most usually pierced to wear earrings?
a) Auricle (or pinna)
b) Middle ear
c) Outer ear canal
d) Malleous
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When you make a muscle in your arm, you are flexing your: a) Auricle (or pinna) is the soft part of the ear that hangs below the ear itself and is the common place for earrings. Please note: The face, neck and other parts of the body have important nerves near the surface of the skin that can be damaged. If you want a piercing please have a professional conduct this to avoid injury.

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