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Sound Bite

We typically use our ear canals to listen: sound waves are captured by the outer ear, or pinna, and travel to the middle and inner ear, where they are transformed into nerve impulses and sent on to the brain.

But bone conduction is another pathway to listening. In bone conduction, vibrations from sound waves pass through the bones in your head rather than through the channel of your outer ear. Have you ever placed a radio or stereo speaker next to your head behind your ear? Some of the sounds you hear are being transmitted to your inner ear through the bones of your skull.

Many hearing aids work in part by bone conduction. Check out the new Listen exhibit Sound Bite for a demonstration of this alternate way of hearing.

  Download Sound Bite
Lisa Miller uses bone conduction to diagnose mechanical problems in cars.