The Laurel/Yanny Debate Deciphered

May 17, 2018

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Yanny or Laurel?  Perhaps the most intriguing question of the season.  The viral audio clip — which some listeners interpret as a deep male voice saying, “Yanny,” and others hear as a higher-pitched voiced saying, “Laurel” popped up on Reddit this week and quickly plunged the internet into fierce debate. But how can you hear something someone hears completely different from the same snippet of audio?  It all comes down to the brain. In short, your brain has to make quick decisions all the time with little information.  A psychology expert says the illusions happens because our brain can't decide on exactly what is being heard. Because of the frequencies of the word, with Laurel being at a lower pitch while Yanny at a higher one, your brain will "choose" a frequency and move on confident of what word is being said.  The illusion is further complicate because our brains does not have the additional visual clues of mouth and body movement to offer support in deciding if you are hearing Laurel or Yanny. Some other factors that might get you to hear the other word is to listen on different types of speakers, such as your phone vs headphone may change the frequency enough for you to hear something different.


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