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Laurel or Yanny: A Scientific Explanation

May 30, 2018

“I heard Laurel.” “Literally where, all I hear is Yanny.” “Are you deaf? It says Laurel.” If you’ve walked past a group of teenagers any time in the past few weeks and overheard a snippet of their conversation, it wouldn’t be unlikely that you heard something along the lines of the dialogue above. Without context, this seems like a meaningless disagreement (which it really is) but the Laurel vs. Yanny outbreak has drawn as much attention to itself as the blue and black vs. white and gold dress debate as people continue to argue over what they perceive to be correct. If you are unaware, an audio recording has been going around the internet that seems to change what it’s saying depending on who is listening to it and/or how they listen to it. This is where the argumentative aspect of the trend is born, as different people either hear the audio repeatedly saying “Laurel” or “Yanny.” Similar videos have come about since this, baffling the mind as our ears apparently play tricks on us. With amazement comes curiosity. Why don’t I hear the other word? How can my friend hear something totally different when we’re listening together? The answer is actually quite simple.

Do you hear Yanny? If so, this could be the case for multiple reasons. First of all, take into account how you were introduced to the audio. Did a friend approach you and ask “Do you hear Yanny?” before playing the audio? Mental priming has a major part in determining what you heard from the video. If you became familiarized with the word “Yanny” before even hearing the audio, you’d be more likely to hear it when the audio is played due to your brain now subconsciously searching for it after being told. “Yanny” isn’t a real word, so if you were introduced to the audio without being given an option of what you hear beforehand, you most likely wouldn’t register hearing “Yanny” as you’d disregard it for not being something that seems sensible as an answer. Furthermore, the sounds in “Yanny” play at a higher frequency than those in “Laurel.” Higher frequencies are easier to hear at a younger age as this ability weakens as we grow older. Because of this, it can be said that those with “younger ears” are the ones that report hearing “Yanny.”

If you hear “Laurel”, it means you hear the same as 53% of the people who stumbled across this controversy. As mentioned before, priming plays a significant role in whether you hear “Yanny” or “Laurel” because if you were told that the clip is saying one or the other, your brain automatically blocks out the many options and focuses on that one specific word. While “Yanny” projects higher frequencies, “Laurel” gives off lower frequencies that can be heard by older ears. “But I just heard Yanny yesterday and now I hear Laurel”. Don’t worry, you aren’t going crazy. This can be caused by where and what you listen to the audio on, whether it’s with your headphones, phone, or laptop; at the end of the day, these all factor in. Luckily, the peeps on the internet has found a way you can hear both “Yanny” and “Laurel”; this done by raising and lowering the audio. When you listen to it brought done 30%, you will hear “Yanny”, but when you bring it back up 30% you’ll hear “Laurel”, so let’s thank the internet for that.

Now, for the answer we’ve all been waiting for… is it “Yanny” or “Laurel”? Well, my friends, the original recording is really saying “Laurel”, so high-five to all those old ears out there. So, all the people that was for “Yanny”, ha, gottem  !! Well, I guess it goes with the saying, “the older you get, the wiser you are”.

What did YOU hear ???

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