Laurel or Yanny? What you hear could depend on hearing loss

Updated

May 17, 2018 07:19:11

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Do you hear “Laurel” or “Yanny”? An expert says your answer could depend on your level of hearing loss.
A four-second audio clip of a computer-generated voice saying a word has divided the internet.

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Cloe Feldman tweet: What do you hear?! Yanny or Laurel

The debate, which has been compared to a dispute over the colour of a dress in 2015, had some insisting they heard “Laurel”.

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Ellen tweet: Literally everything at my show just stopped to see if people hear Laurel or Yanny. I hear Laurel.

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Ted Berg tweet: The thing definitely says Laurel, there’s no way anyone could hear that as Yanny, anyone who says they do is lying for shock value, the end, gfy

Others said it was definitely “Yanny”.

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Stephen King tweet: It’s Yanny.

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Yanni tweet: I only hear Yanni 😉 hahaha

Meanwhile, some could hear both.

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Franky Ritz tweet: RIP Me – I hear both Yanny and Laurel now.

If Google searches were anything to go by, “Laurel” was winning.

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GoogleTrends tweet: #laurel is ahead of #yanny in search today

So how come we’re all hearing something different?
It’s all got to do with the frequency.
As we get older, we tend to start losing our hearing at higher frequency ranges.
In the audio clip, the word “Yanny” is being created by acoustic information which is at a higher frequency than “Laurel” is.
Lars Riecke, assistant professor of audition and cognitive neuroscience at Maastricht University, told The Verge the audio clip was ambiguous.
“The input can be organised in two alternative ways,” he said.
So if you pitch shift the audio clip a little bit to hear more of either the higher and lower frequencies, you should be able to hear the two words.

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Dylan Bennett tweet: Okay, you’re not crazy. If you can hear high freqs, you probably hear “yanny”, but you *might* hear “laurel”. If you can’t hear high freqs, you probably hear laurel. Here’s what it sounds like without high/low freqs. RT so we can avoid the whole dress situation

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Steve Pomeroy tweet: Ok, so if you pitch-shift it you can hear different things

Professor Riecke said it could also be as simple as changing the audio system used to play the clip, which could also add some variation to the frequency.
Audiologist Dr Bill Vass told ABC Canberra it could be like a high-pitched mosquito ringtone school students use, which can usually only be heard by people under 25 years old — making it inaudible to many teachers.
But he said it was also more difficult to determine the word in this particular recording because it is “not real speech”.
“We’re not listening to an actual speaker — we’re listening to manipulated speech, and that is a bit harder,” he said.

Topics:

internet-culture,

social-media,

hearing,

australia

First posted

May 16, 2018 22:12:42

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