Hearing plays such an important role in everyday life of man. This sense is one that often taken for granted this is largely because the ear does its job well without our having to pay attention to it. Hearing is the best omnical sense we have, allowing us to be aware of the locations of things before we feel smell or see them; we don't even have to turn around. This ability imparts tremendous survival advantages for all animals. As humans we rely greatly hearing as part of communication which relies on rapid processing of acoustic energy that the normal inner ear provides. The importance of such a small part of the body is reflected by its position deep inside the protection of the strongest, hardest bone in the body, the skull. .
By the 15th century, the presence of the eardrum and two of the three bones of the middle ear had been recognised, but not much effort was put into further discovering the ear. Progresses during the 20th century greatly influenced the importance of the sense hearing to the human race with the inventions of the phonograph, telephone and radio. With technological discoveries the status of importance of sound amongst the scientific was restabilised at a greater point then before. Almost 300 years later then earlier discoveries Domenico Cotugno would find that, in contrast to the air filled middle ear, the inner ear is fluid-filled. A century later Ernst Reissner described the presence of two distinct fluid compartments in the cochlea. Improvements in microscopic methods during the 19th century led to Alfonso Corti's painstaking description of the cells comprising the sensory receptor organ of the inner ear. .
It was also in this period that scientists discovered that the ear was responsible for generating and sending electrical signals to the brain. These studies resulted in von Békésy winning the 1961 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology. Our understanding of how the ear works entered its most exciting phase about 20 years ago when it was discovered that the inner ear actually makes sounds.