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“Laurel” vs “Yanny”. Why You Heard What You Heard

You may have heard it already, the viral meme that’s sweeping the internet by storm.  Is it “Laurel” or “Yanny”.  If you haven’t heard about it yet, there has been an audio recording of a word being said.  Some people are convinced it’s “Laurel”.  Within just a few days, it has received hundreds of thousands of likes on Twitter and exploded on social media.

A recent article by Health.com interviewed Don Vaughn, PhD, and he explains that depending on how your ears are, you will hear either or. “It’s a really interesting phenomenon,” he tells Health. The brain tries its best to create “one unified model of the world,” he says–but at the end of the day, one person’s individual brain is just one individual interpretation, he explains. “Your brain’s job is to construct the most likely reality, so it makes the best guess.” The result? In a split second, you hear either Laurel or Yanny.

Chances are, however, there’s a good chance you can hear both. Dr. Vaughn states, “If I say, ‘I know you hear it as Yanny, but I want you to sit here and listen to Laurel, I think most people can hear it either way,” he says. “It’s a conflict between our first gut reaction and the fact that there is another interpretation, but it’s inconvenient to do that work.”

Another explanation is that people who are older, and have fewer hair cells are more likely to hear Laurel because they are not able to pick up the higher frequencies of the sound “Yanny”.  This is evident when you take the audio file and adjust it in audio programming by playing with the frequencies.  It’s quite fascinating and funny understandable why it’s become the internet’s biggest phenomenon.

Nick Eugenis
Nick Eugenis is the Digital Content Specialist at Beltone. Nick supports the digital marketing efforts of Beltone along with providing assistance to various Beltone locations throughout North America. He spends his free time with his wife, daughter, son and Shiba Inu named “Hachi”.

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