Do You Hear “Yanny” or “Laurel”? (SOLVED with SCIENCE)

Do you hear YANNY? Or LAUREL? A recent Twitter poll found, that 47% of people hear “YANNY”, while 53% hear “LAUREL” Clearly this has created an internet argument that is dividing the nation So what is the science behind the madness? One of the first aspects is PRIMING If you were to play this clip without providing the option of “YANNY” or “LAUREL,” you may have heard neither of these words, But by reading them, you’re primed to hear one or the other. Secondly when you speak you are producing sound waves, which propagate through the air This is a visual depiction of the sound waves of the original YANNY/LAUREL recording created by Brad Story, a Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Here is the depiction of him saying “LAUREL” You can see that the acoustic features are very similar Here is a depiction of him saying “YANNY” The acoustic features are also similar So the words “YANNY” and “LAUREL” audibly are more similar than you might think Whether you’re listening on a laptop, phone or headphones will influence what you hear based on sound quality But what if you were listening through the same device but you hear different things with someone next to you? It might have to do with the age of your ears The sounds in “YANNY” play at a higher frequency than the sounds in “LAUREL” As we age, our ears are less able to hear higher frequencies So if you are hearing “YANNY”, you might have younger ears Luckily with the help of the internet, we can hear both Brilliant twitter user @xxv posted audio of the pitch brought both down and up When you listen to it brought down 30%, you will hear “YANNY” “YANNY” (played twice) But when you listen to it with the pitch brought up 30%, you will likely hear “LAUREL” “LAUREL” (played twice) Your brain has so much stimulus at all times that it uses existing information and precise neurological pathways to focus its attention This is why at a loud party you can listen to your friend beside you but pop your attention into another convo if need be Similarly, your brain is unconsciously choosing which frequencies in the recording to pay attention to so So… What is the final answer? If you heard “LAUREL”, you are correct! The original recording is saying LAUREL but with higher frequencies overlaid, creating ambiguity **Love learning about amazing and interesting things in the world? We actually just started a brand new podcast called “SIDENOTE” where we explore the things that are stumping us or making us curious in life and then insert all the mind-blowing science behind it We’d love for you to check it out on iTunes or whichever podcast app you use Your support means a ton to us as we slowly journey into exploring more science in a new medium Again it’s called SIDENOTE and it’s brand new, so we’re excited to know what you think We’ll leave some links below And subscribe for more weekly science videos every Thursday