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In Anatomy, What Is the Auricle?

In regards to the ear, the auricle is the portion that exists outside of the head.
In regards the heart, the auricle is a part of the atrium, specifically the small, cone-shaped muscular pouch that projects from it.
In the heart, the auricle is a small, cone-shaped pouch that projects from the atrium, one of the upper chambers.
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  • Written By: Jacob Harkins
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 16 August 2014
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When talking about human anatomy, the auricle may refer to two distinct body parts — a part of the heart or a part of the ear. In relation to the ear, the term refers to the portion that exists outside of the head. In the heart, it is a part of the atrium.

Most people, and especially children, think of the auricle when they refer to the "ear" as opposed to the entire ear including the middle and inner ear. This portion is also commonly called the pinna.

The primary purpose of the auditory auricle is to collect sound. Its shape is designed to not only amplify sound, but to filter it as well. To achieve this perhaps seemingly simple task, eleven different parts work together to collect and filter sound. Sounds are amplified and directed from outside of the person and into the auditory canal.

The outer ear works differently depending on the frequency of a sound. Low frequencies are directed toward the auditory canal, but there is an extra phase of noise filtering for high-pitch sounds, which makes its filtering function even more valuable.

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When referencing the heart, the auricle is a term used to describe one of two sections of the two atria that are part of the heart. They are known as the right and left auricles. In older references, these names are used to describe the entire left and right atrium, but more recently, the term is used with more precise meaning. It refers to the small, cone-shaped, muscular pouch that projects from the atrium. Both auricles help their respective atria hold more blood, and in this respect, they essentially serve as reservoirs.

The right auricle, also commonly called the right auricular appendix, is typically larger than the left one, which is also known as the left atrial appendage. Similarly, the right atrium is larger than the left atrium. This is largely because of their different functions. The right atrium accepts de-oxygenated blood that is returning to the heart from the upper body via the superior vena cava and from the lower body via the inferior vena cava. The left atrium receives oxygenated blood returning to the heart from the lungs via the pulmonary vein. The auricles are located at the receiving end of the atria.

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Cruze
Post 4

My son was born with a misshapen left ear auricle that his pediatrician said was the cause of his frequent ear infections. We were told to hold off on surgery, that his ear would change as he aged. Fortunately for him that’s exactly what happened and he never needed surgery.

Othilia
Post 3

I had no idea that the function of the auricle(external ear) had anything to do with hearing. I learned as a kid to fold my ears forward with my hands if I needed to hear better, so it makes a lot of sense.

Does that mean that someone who has large ears, or ears that stick out, has enhanced or better hearing? Fascinating!

anon144477
Post 1

that was a very good explanation. thank you.

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