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If you are reading this, you are likely one of the more than 14 million people who vehemently believe that this audio clip is saying either the word “yanny” or the word “laurel.”

If you haven’t heard it yet, take a listen:

The short audio clip has sharply divided the Internet since it was posted by Twitter user Cloe Feldman on Monday. Why would people hear two totally different words?

To answer this, we consulted experts in how human brains perceive sound.

Nina Kraus, a neurobiology professor at Northwestern University, says, “It is not at all surprising to me that two different people will take a sound that is admittedly acoustically ambiguous and hear it differently.”

“Acoustically ambiguous” in this case means that it’s a very poor-quality file. That is crucial in explaining why people are hearing different things.

The viral tweet posted by Feldman was actually taken from a post on Reddit, as she has explained. And the person who appears to be the original Reddit poster, RolandCamry, says that he made it from playing a recording from Vocabulary.com out of his speakers. In other words, there are multiple steps that degrade the quality of the audio.

(Spoiler alert: Based on what the Redditor who claims to be the original poster said, the original recording is probably this one on Vocabulary.com, which says “laurel.”)

The poor quality of the audio, likely re-recorded multiple times, makes it more open to interpretation by the brain, says Brad Story, a professor of speech, language and hearing sciences at the University of Arizona. Primary information that would be present in…

Mayra Rodriguez
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Mayra Rodriguez

Content Editor at oneQube
Work from home mom dedicated to my family. Total foodie trying new recipes.Love hunting for the best deals online. Wannabe style fashionista. As content editor, I get to do what I love everyday. Tweet, share and promote the best content our tools find on a daily basis.
Mayra Rodriguez
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