The vibrations sent by the malleus, incus, and stapes make the fluid in the cochlea to ripple, forming a wave along the basilar membrane. The sensory cells on top of the basilar membrane essentially surf the message forward on that wave. After this, hair-like projections called stereocilia to bend when they come into contact with the inner ear; this prompts them to open and allow a flood of chemicals carrying the message to rush into the hair cells. This creates an electrical signal which is handed off to the auditory nerve and directed to the brain. After that, the brain turns this signal into what you know as sound.
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