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What Is Yanny and Laurel?

Over the years, many videos have circulated the web, though recently a viral clip has surfaced which is taking the internet by storm.

“Yanny or Laurel” is a short clip which features a brief line of dialogue. It all comes down to interpretation; the audio clip can be interpreted in one of two ways. Some people will hear “Yanny” being spoken in a deep male voice, whilst others will hear “Laurel” in a higher-pitch voice. Naturally, the clip has sparked a worldwide internet debate as to what was actually being said. What do you hear?

What’s Actually Happening?

Our brains are hardwired to turn signal (sound) into meaning. This means that even if what you hear is unintelligible, your brain will try its hardest to turn it into meaning. It’s like what is referred to as ‘hearing by context’.

Dr. Kevin Franck, director of audiology at Massachusetts Eye and Ear, explains:

“This all comes down to the brain.” Frank says, and that “Spoken language puts relatively arbitrary barriers around sound to turn it into very different meanings. Those boundaries could be drastically or subtly different for each of us. Everything from your language, dialect, experiences growing up and more can affect how you interpret certain sounds.”

He goes on to say “The Yanny vs. Laurel experiment most likely exploits the cognitive tendencies of the brain by forcing it to choose a camp. The clip probably exists on a ‘perceptual boundary’ that forces the brain to make a blink-of-the-moment decision about which word it’s hearing, based on the bare minimum of information.”

Does This Happen With Our Eyes Too?

The auditory illusion can be likened to the ‘Necker Cube’, which is an optical illusion in which a cube is drawn onto a page using lines, with no indicators as to the orientation of the cube. What this means, is that viewers can interpret either the upper right square or lower left square as the front face. It’s also possible to switch between the two, so it appears the cube changes, despite the fact the drawing remains the same.

In a similar way; some people hear ‘Yanny’, and others hear ‘Laurel’.

The McGurk Effect

In fact, your eyes and your ears work very closely with each other to piece together an intelligible understanding of your environment. Please check out a similar, audible phenomenon called “The McGurk Effect”.

Check out our video below!