The ear is one of the important organs of the body. It helps in the hearing of sound by this we can connect to the environment. Not only hearing, but the ear is also very important in maintaining the static balance of the body. The ear is divided into three parts that are the outer ear, middle ear, and inner ear. A membranous labyrinth is present in the inner ear. The endolymph fluid is present in the membranous labyrinth. This fluid has a major concentration of sodium, potassium, and calcium. We will learn more about perilymph and endolymph and also about the difference between endolymph and perilymph.
There is a coiled portion in the labyrinth and this is known as the cochlea. In the inner ear, it is the main hearing organ. This spirally coiled process appears as a body of a snail. From the broad end, the cochlea appears tapering in nature. The bony labyrinth is then divided into three channels or chambers. Reissner’s membrane is the upper membrane and the basilar’s membrane is the lower membrane of the cochlea. The bony labyrinth is filled with fluid and this fluid is called perilymph. This space is also called the perilymphatic space.
Perilymph and Endolymph
The perilymph and endolymph fluids, both are present in the membranous labyrinth. The perilymph as seen above fills the membranous labyrinth. This fluid is different from other extracellular fluid because in it the concentration of sodium ions is higher and the amount of potassium ions is lower. In the endolymph, the concentration of potassium is higher than that of the sodium ion concentrations. These fluids help in maintaining the ionic concentration in the ear.
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How Do We Hear the Sound?
There is a sequence of events that take place for the mechanism of hearing. Sound waves are received by the external ear. They are then directed to the eardrum. These waves then strike the tympanic membrane and there is compression and depression at the tympanic membrane and this tympanic membrane produces vibrations. From the ear ossicles, these are then transmitted. In the perilymph, a wave is set up by the movement of the oval window. Vibrations are caused to the endolymph of the scala media. In the basilar membrane, a wave is induced by the endolymph in the waves. The basilar movements help in bending the hair cells when they are pressed against the tectorial membrane. By the afferent neurons, new impulses are generated. They are then transmitted to the auditory region of the brain with the help of the auditory nerve. The impulse is then analyzed and the sound is then recognized.
Saccule and utricle are the two structures that are present in the otolith organ. Both structures are just present below the three semicircular canals. They have the presence of the macular ridge and this ridge is called the macula. It is present in both saccule and utricle. The macula in the saccule acts as a special sensory receptor. It senses the changes that occur in the position of the head by the effect of gravity. Some hair cells are also present at the basal end of the macula and these hair cells help in maintaining the balance of the body. So we can say that the otolith membrane helps in maintaining the static balance or equilibrium of the body. The crista and the macula help in the maintenance of body balance and posture. Through the vestibular branch of the auditory nerve, these impulses are then transmitted to the cerebellum of the brain. They are analyzed there. This cerebellum helps in processing the data and then it helps in coordinating the movements of muscles with the cortex and then send impulses related to it. The basilar membrane also helps in discriminating the different pitches of the sound. This is because it has different regions to sense the different vibrations that are received from the external environment. The sound waves from the scala tympani are transmitted to the oval window as soon as they reach there.