How Your Brain Understands What Your Ear Hears
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National Institutes of Health
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

How Your Brain Understands What Your Ear Hears

Main    Getting Started    Teacher's Guide    Student Activities    About NIH and NIDCD

Glossary    Map    Contact

How Small Is a Hair Cell?

How Small Is a Hair Cell?

How Small Is a Hair Cell?
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How small is a hair cell? Really, really small! With the help of a scanning electron microscope, a microscope that uses electrons instead of light to magnify objects, we are able to zoom in on the bristle-like stereocilia that sit on top of hair cells.

Diameter of hair cell: approximately 10 µm (micrometers) or one-tenth the diameter of an average human hair. (One micrometer is one millionth of a meter.)

Diameter of one stereocilium: approximately 250 nm (nanometers) or one-four-hundredth the diameter of an average human hair. (One nanometer is one billionth of a meter.)

Note: an average human hair is roughly 100 micrometers thick.

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