Scientists Explain Why Some People Hear ‘Yanny’ And Others Hear ‘Laurel’ On That Recording

ICYMI–there’s a new recording going around the web that has everyone online divided.
The recording is extremely simple–a person saying a name repeatedly. However, people online are divided between whether they hear “Yanny” or “Laurel.” It’s basically 2018’s version of “the dress,”–remember that?

People online are essentially going head-to-head, defending their honor and their hearing, essentially. If you haven’t had a chance to hear the recording:

Personally, I hear Laurel every single time. But, there are thousands of people who claim they hear Yanny. I have no idea how anyone could hear Yanny when that “L” is s crystal clear, in my ears at least. But, still, there were people who completely sided with the “Yanny” party (you’re all dead to me).

Obviously, I’m confused as to how anyone can hear Yanny on this audio. But, luckily, BuzzFeed asked some experts just why people are hearing two different names and they were kind enough to take time out of their day curing diseases and doing science stuff to weigh in on a ridiculous Internet debate–thanks, guys.

Experts told BuzzFeed News that it’s a prime example of “The McGurk Effect“–where visual aids interact with what you hear because you see it first. Therefore, you’re reading the names before you hear the audio, which can affect the way you hear it. Raul Veiga, CEO of production company Radial Produções said:

“So…it’s actually a very poor-quality recording and the brain gets influenced by what you read first, before you actually hear it. What gets people confused is that it’s not Yanny or Laurel, it’s more of a ‘Yarel’ thing.”

As well, how you’re listening to the audio has an effect on what you hear. If you’re listening on headphones, it can have different frequencies than listening on a computer or speaker out loud. Poppy Crum, chief scientist at Dolby Laboratories, said:

“Different speakers or headphones can have drastically different frequency response profiles (for instance, laptop speakers have limited low-frequency response), which will lead to either name being more emphasized to a listener.”

Also, what people can say about the audio can affect the way you hear it too. If you’re listening with your partner, co-workers or friends and they say they hear “Yanny,” or “Laurel,” your mind tries to hear that specific name, too. Which ultimately can change the way you hear it entirely. Just this morning I was listening to a radio morning show where a DJ said he heard “Yanny,” but when everyone else said they heard “Laurel,” he stopped and said–”Wait, I do hear Laurel.”

Pascal Wallisch, a professor of psychology at New York University, said:

The reason these differential illusions like the dress and this recording are interesting is that they show how the brain does this, namely by combining incoming information with assumptions.

Producers and editors also mentioned that messing with the bass and other modifications can change the way you hear the audio, as well.

Regardless of all of this–I still hear Laurel and I’m sticking to it.