How hearing works
Our ability to hear and understand sounds around us depends on the inner ear (the cochlea) converting sounds to electrical signals that are interpreted by the brain.
Sounds waves are channeled into the ear and down the ear canal, where the eardrum and three tiny ear bones convert those sound waves into a form of mechanical energy that is transmitted to the cochlea in the inner ear.
The cochlea of the inner ear encodes this mechanical energy into an electrical signal that is transmitted via nerve fibers to the brain. This process happens because the cochlea contains highly specialized hair-like cells that allow complicated sound vibrations to be converted with perfect fidelity into electrical signals that get sent to the brain.
Multiple parts of the brain are involved in decoding the signal from the ear, and this primarily takes place in portions of the brain’s temporal lobe (the part of the brain on either side of your head that sits above the ears).
To put it another way, your ear encodes sounds into an electrical signal, and your brain then decodes the signal into actual meaning.