hearing solutions calgary

Yanny or Laurel?

Remember “the dress?” Some people saw it as black and blue, while others were convinced it was white and gold.

The debate revealed fascinating differences in how humans perceive colour. Now, a new viral debate brought to our attention by Cloe Feldman on Twitter may give us insight into how humans perceive sounds. Click the link. Did you hear “Yanny,” or “Laurel?” 


How hearing works


Before discussing the phenomenon at work, we need to talk about the brain. You might already know that everything you perceive is filtered and processed by your brain before you become aware of it. For one thing, your eyes, ears, and other sensory organs receive a lot of stimuli and your brain has to select the important stuff. What you may not know is how much processing your brain is responsible for. When you look around, your eyes are actually seeing disconnected images and it’s your brain that stitches them back together into a coherent panorama. The same is true of your sense of hearing: your brain interprets the vibrations that reach your eardrum, and thus, distinct people will hear things differently.

Do you hear “Yanny” or “Laurel”?


First, let’s figure out what’s going on in that recording. The clip is in fact a re-recording of someone saying the word “Laurel” with background noise added into the mix. A Twitter survey found that 53 percent of respondents heard “Laurel”, while 47 percent heard “Yanny”. What’s happening here is an auditory illusion: the sounds that make up “Yanny” are present in the high frequencies of the recording, but those frequencies are hard to hear for older people because their capacity to perceive higher frequencies may have naturally degraded. That said, boosting or lowering the bass allows people to hear both words and even learn to decide which end of the spectrum to pay attention to.

Bass and hearing health


This illusion highlights the role bass, or low frequencies, plays in determining what you hear. The capacity to perceive high frequencies degrades with age, but the really interesting thing about this illusion is that it might tell you something about your hearing health. Regardless of your age, it’s always a good idea to schedule a regular hearing test, so think about contacting your audiologist in Calgary to schedule a checkup.

Hearing solutions in Calgary


The debate around Yanny or Laurel raised awareness about the importance of hearing health. With so many people hearing “Laurel,” it lessened the stigma associated with hearing impairment. Our expert audiologists at Soundwave Hearing Care can help you get started on your way to better hearing health. Contact us today to schedule a hearing assessment in the Calgary area.
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