The human ear is made up of three primary parts. The outer ear, or pinna, consists of textured cartilage and skin, which together form a structure that channels sound into the tympanic membrane. More commonly known as the eardrum, the tympanic membrane transforms the incoming sound waves into vibrations.
Beyond the tympanic membrane lies the tympanic cavity, also called the middle ear. Lined by mucous membranes and filled with air, it conducts vibrations through to the inner ear. There, a spiral-shaped structure known as the cochlea translates the incoming vibrations into nerve signals that it then sends to the brain for interpretation. The semicircular canals of the inner ear also have the capacity to communicate with the brain, and they use this ability to send information about head position and balance that in turn helps the brain to orient the body in space.