Is it Yanny or Laurel?

May 16, 2018
Updated 2mo ago

By Alisha Haridasani

It’s the most divisive question since the blue and black dress (or was it white and gold?!): Do you hear Yanny or Laurel?

Technically, the answer is "Laurel." But some people swear it's "Yanny."

The question, which is ripping the internet apart, revolves around an audio clip reportedly posted on Reddit by a student who found it on a vocabulary website when researching a school project under the word "laurel." The clip went viral, leaving many listeners questioning what they heard ー and maybe their sanity.

The discrepancy in what people hear could be due to circumstance, said Brad Story, professor of speech, language, and hearing at the University of Arizona.

“It really is going to depend on the information that you have in terms of your bias toward listening to it at that moment in time," said Story. "That’s what we call ‘top-down information’ ー trying to make sense of any kind of pattern that's present.”

The two words share very similar acoustic characteristics that your brain could selectively hear it one way or the other, he said.

The bass, frequency, and volume of the audio clip can also influence what someone hears. Some people posted videos on Twitter where the audio levels were adjusted, changing how the clip could be heard.

So, whatever the technical answer to the question is, in reality, it can be both.

For the full interview, click here.