Why Do We Hear Yanny Or Laurel? We Asked A Professor Of Auditory Neuroscience

16 May 2018, 15:25

A science professor told LBC the secret behind the phenomenon sweeping the internet - why do we hear either 'yanny' or 'laurel' in a video clip?

Many people insist that the computer-generated voice is saying the word "laurel", while others say they hear "yanny".

After being posted on Reddit, the clip spread across the internet with celebrities disagreeing over what they could hear.

So what's the secret behind it? James O'Brien spoke to Professor Adrian Rees, a Professor of Auditory Neuroscience at Newcastle University to find out.

"Like you, I hear Yanny," Professor Rees said. "However, I can change the sound so that I can hear laurel instead.

"The way to do that is to filter out the high frequencies in the sound, so you just hear the lower frequencies towards the bass.

"You can do that if you have a graphic equaliser on your computer.

"It's the sound equivalent of a vision illusion. The information for both interpretations in there. Different people can have different interpretations.

"Yanny and laurel have some features, which are quite similar and they've added high frequencies"

This person on Twitter perfectly illustrates what Professor Rees was explaining.

The debate brings back memories of the dress from 2015, in which internet users disagreed over whether a dress was blue and black or white and gold.

The Dress from 2015
The Dress from 2015. Picture: Twitter