Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Culture | By Margie Dunn

Yanny or Laurel? What do you hear? Soundbite leaves netizens confused

Yanny or Laurel? What do you hear? Soundbite leaves netizens confused

The sound clip is making people hear two very different words: Yanny and Laurel.

"I hear yanny, but I listened to it this morning and I heard laurel", one woman said.

Why do some people hear "Yanny" and others hear "Laurel", and others seems to be able to switch between them?

He played it for his peers, who disagreed over whether the syllables formed "Yanny" or "Laurel".

If you mess with the frequencies in a recording, you can change what people hear - it's similar to the way that our eyes can be tricked by an optical illusion. Now an audio file has friends, family members and office mates questioning one another's hearing, and their own. And there's also the issue of quality, a high-end speaker like ones in our editing rooms have a broader range of frequencies then say cell phone.

"It's all in how our brain processes sound, so each word laurel and yanny have a different frequency level". She said she heard laurel. Sure, we guessed it had something to do with subtle differences in sensory capability, which eventually explained why people saw "the dress" differently.

John Houde, who runs the speech neuroscience lab at UCSF where Kothare works, said that the either-or prompt of yanny or laurel is a classic example of what's known as a forced-choice experiment. "Is the person more of a high-pitched voice or a low-pitched voice?"

A tweet from Cloe Feldman on Monday has caused a social media firestorm.

Local experts say how your brain interprets the pitch of the word determines what you hear. Even though we now know the origin of the famous clip, the debate rages on.

With time, a definitive scientific explanation will probably surface, like the one given for the dress, which had much to do with lighting.

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