I'm thinking in terms of the middle ear and the very intricate and tiny bones that process a "sound wave" into "what we hear." Is there an output to the middle ear ossicle chain bones such that a signal is being sent from the ears to outside of our body too? If so what is that frequency?

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    $\begingroup$ Not that I know does the middle ear, however, there are otoacoustic emissions, sounds that originate from the inner ear and can actually be picked up with microphones. $\endgroup$
    – huh
    Jun 28 '16 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ Read this: How does the inner ear encode sound intensity?. Doesn't seem to be electric, per se. $\endgroup$
    – user3169
    Jun 29 '16 at 4:31
  • $\begingroup$ @huh - that's a great answer! I was about writing an answer along those lines, but I'll leave that up to you if you wish. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jun 29 '16 at 7:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Christiaan – Well it sure isn't quite along the specific lines of the question, but I think it's relevant and might well be a pleasing answer for the OP, so I will flesh it out a bit as soon as I have the time. $\endgroup$
    – huh
    Jun 29 '16 at 13:25
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    $\begingroup$ Can you update the question? The question title does not match the body. Given the comments above it is unclear what you are after. The title warrants an electrophysiological answer (CM, CAP, SP), the body warrants a more clinical answer (OAEs). All these phenomena apply to your question as of now. What do you wish to know? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Aug 8 '16 at 22:08

No there isn't any output for these bones other than mechanically pushing against the oval window.

An illustration of our ear

In short:

  • Sound waves travel through the ear canal.
  • They hit the ear drum (Tympanic membrane).
  • The three bones (ossicles) in our middle ear are simply an impedance matching device (very much like gears on bicycles). They amplify the ear drum movement with the Stapes pushing against the oval window (part of the inner ear).
  • The mechanical movement of the stapes against the oval window causes liquid within the Cochlea to oscillate.
  • Within the Cochlea there are tiny hair cells that discharge (snap) in response to a specific frequency/amplitude (See this answer).
  • When discharge, a nerve pulse is sent to our brain.
  • $\begingroup$ I am not sure how the cochlear microphonic fits in here. All the depolarization of the hear cells results in an electric signal you can pick up in the middle ear. $\endgroup$
    – StrongBad
    Jul 2 '16 at 4:14
  • $\begingroup$ This answer is incorrect. Look up OAEs. -1 $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Aug 8 '16 at 22:15
  • $\begingroup$ @Christiaan. While completely acknowledging OAEs, I suspect this isn't the type of output the OP is after. There's also nothing in my answer that rules out OAEs. $\endgroup$
    – Izhaki
    Aug 8 '16 at 23:12
  • $\begingroup$ The first sentence is incorrect. And the question is indeed vague. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Aug 9 '16 at 6:11
  • $\begingroup$ Maybe, Izhaki, you can edit the answer by mentioning that while the main function of the ossicles is to mediate the oscillations of the tympanic membrane to the inner ear by effectively doing impedance matching and then pushing against the oval window, there is also the phenomenon of OAE's where it goes the other way, namely from inner ear oscillations to outer ear. I found this article which describes the mechanism in great detail. Otherwise I think your answer is a good summary. $\endgroup$
    – awakenting
    Aug 9 '16 at 9:47

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