Dr. Emily Martinson, AuD, Ph
Although I try to do one Science Series post a month, I am sorry to report that I missed February. That means that March is going to be even more nerdy to make up for it. So, without further hesitation, let’s jump right back into the wonderful world of anatomy, with this month’s post.
For those of you who are following the Science Series, you may remember that we are working our way through the human ear, one part at a time. So far, we have covered the outer ear, which includes the pinna and ear canal. We have one last part of the outer ear to cover, and it is very unique, as it is actually part of both the outer and middle ear. I’d like to introduce you to the bridge between the outer and middle ear: the humble eardrum.
The scientific term for the eardrum is the tympanic membrane, which one of my audiology classmates told me was the correct answer to a question at pub trivia, so make sure to remember that one if you’d like to win a free Bud Light some day. The tympanic membrane is made of layers of skin and is located at the very end of the ear canal.
The eardrum itself is thin, and relatively flexible. As you may remember from our last science series discussion, the ear canal is a long tube that brings sound to the eardrum. When the sound wave arrives, it causes the eardrum to vibrate. This vibration is very similar to the vibration of a musical drum if you were to hit it with a drum stick. Disclaimer: please do not hit your eardrum with a drum stick, because if you do you will puncture it, and then you will sue me but will not win because this sentence will be shown in court as Exhibit A.
Included in the eardrum is the end of the first bone in the middle ear, but more on that later. For today’s discussion, just know that the vibration of the eardrum leads to a vibration of this bone. Stay tuned to the Science Series to see what happens next!