Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
The cochlea is filled with fluid and is connected with the middle ear by two membrane-covered openings, the oval window (fenestra vestibuli) and the round window (fenestra cochleae). Inside it is the organ of corti, a structure of highly specialized cells that translate sound vibrations into nerve impulses. The cells of this organ have tiny hairlike strands (cilia) that protrude into the fluid of the cochlea.
Sound vibrations are relayed from the tympanic membrane (eardrum) by the bones of hearing in the middle ear to the oval window, where they set up corresponding vibrations in the fluid of the cochlea. These vibrations move the cilia of the organ of Corti, which then sends nerve impulses to the brain.
co·chle·ae(kok'lē-ă, lē-ē), [TA]
bony labyrinthThe bone encasement of the inner ear which is filled with perilymph and contains 3 cavities:
(1) The cochlea, which houses the sensory part of the auditory system;
(2) The semicircular canals, which are sensitive to rotational movement;
(3) The vestibule, which contains the sacculus and utriculus, which are sensitive to linear movement.
coch·lea, pl. cochleae (koklē-ă, -ē) [TA]
cochlea(kŏk′lē-ă) [Gr. kokhlos, land snail]
The cochlea is coiled, resembling a snail shell, winding two and three quarters turns about a central bony axis, the modiolus. Projecting outward from the modiolus, a thin bony plate, the spiral lamina, partially divides the cochlear canal into an upper passageway, the scala vestibuli, and a lower one, the scala tympani. Between the two scalae is the cochlear duct, the auditory portion of the membranous labyrinth. The spiral organ (of Corti) lies on its floor. The base of the cochlea adjoins the vestibule. At the cupola or tip, the two scalae are joined at the helicotrema.