Laurel or Yanny debate: Why do some people hear a different word?

Original audio clip comes from vocabulary.com and features voice repeating one word. The Guardian explains how it’s possible to hear two different words

A short audio clip of a computer-generated voice has become the most divisive subject on the internet since the gold/blue dress controversy of 2015. The audio "illusion”, which first appeared on Reddit, seems to be saying one word – but whether that word is "Yanny” or “Laurel” is the source of furious disagreement.

Professor David Alais from the University of Sydney’s school of psychology says the Yanny/Laurel sound is an example of a "perceptually ambiguous stimulus”. "They can be seen in two ways, and often the mind flips back and forth between the two interpretations. This happens because the brain can’t decide on a definitive interpretation,” Alais says.

"If there is little ambiguity, the brain locks on to a single perceptual interpretation. Here, the Yanny/Laurel sound is meant to be ambiguous because each sound has a similar timing and energy content – so in principle it’s confusable.

Read the full feature here.

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