How the ear works
The hearing process is quite an intricate and complex function which involves the outer, middle, and inner ear and lastly the brain.
Sound waves are collected by the outer ear(Pinna) and channelled down and along the ear canal(auditory meatus) to the eardrum - tympanic membranes . When sound waves hits the eardrum, the impact creates vibrations which, in turn, causes three bones - ossicles in the middle ear to move, which are, the incus, malleus and in turn the stapes. The smallest of these bones, the stapes, is attached to the oval window which allows the vibration energy of the ossicles to be transmitted in to the inner ear. When the oval window vibrates in and out the fluid in the inner ear transmits the vibrations into the hearing organ, called the - cochlea.
In the inner ear, thousands of microscopic hair cells are bent by the wave-like action of fluid inside the cochlea. The bending of these hairs sets off nerve impulses(electro-chemical reaction) which are then passed through the auditory nerve to the hearing centre of the brain. This centre translates the impulses into sounds the brain can recognize.
It could be said that the ears are like a conduit for sound to travel through from our environment to our brain(auditory cortex). So in essence it’s not actually the ears themselves that hear, but in fact the brain.
graphic links kindly supplied by Bernafon