Laurel/Yanny Online Debate Explained By Scientific Research

A couple years after the dress debate proliferated online and confounded millions of individuals worldwide, a recent viral conundrum has gained similar traction. A low quality audio recording that was first posted on has some hearing the name Laurel, and for others, the nonsensical word Yanny. However, scientists and other speech specialists have stepped in to explain this dichotomy. 

Reaching worldwide attention after being posted to Internet sensation Cloe Feldman’s Instagram and Twitter accounts, speech pathologists are trying to elucidate why some hear the recording differently. “There’s just enough ambiguity in this fairly low-quality recording that some] people are hearing it one way and some people are hearing it another,” reveals Brad Story, the associate department head of speech, language and hearing sciences at Arizona State University. 

Human beings routinely pick up on three different frequencies when listening to someone speak. Story notes how the lowest of these three frequencies is “absolutely essential” to hear Ls and Rs, the consonants that comprise the name Laurel. However, Story notes how the term Yanny has almost the same pattern of L,R,L in Laurel. 

Although, the poor audio recording will have an effect on how the audio is registered in the brain. “Typically, if you have a high-quality recording and you’re listening on a good device of some sort, you’re not ever going to be confused by those.”

Adding to the conversation, Rory Turnbull, the professor of linguistics at the University of Hawaii, admits that the method in which our brains pick up on and interpret these frequencies effects how humans decipher and make sense of sounds. 

To read an extensive scientific coverage of this bewildering online trend, head on over to Vox  to gain an in-depth insight into this intriguing debate.

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