Yanny or Laurel? An audio clip – originating from vocabulary.com but which has gone global via a Reddit post – features a computer-generated voice repeating one word … but what do you hear?
1. ‘Yanny or Laurel’ is an auditory illusion of a re-recording of a vocabulary word or what’s also called “perceptually ambiguous stimulus”. Play the recording and find out what your students can hear.
2. Discuss with students how and why something can be perceived differently by different people. One suggestion is that ‘Yanny’ can be heard at higher frequencies and ‘Laurel’ at lower. Older people, whose ability to hear higher frequencies is more likely to have degraded, more often hear ‘Laurel’.
USES IN THE CLASSROOM
It’s a bit of fun finding out what people hear. At INTERFACEXpo last month, we tested it out on the audience. Overall, ‘Yanny’ was in a two-thirds majority. But there’s the opportunity to talk about the implications of hearing things differently and the science behind it. Do other senses also have ambiguities like this? (Incidentally, the word being spoken in the original recording is Laurel.)