The Yanny/Laurel audio illusion is burning down the Internet

Remember the nutso virial Internet debate about the colour of this dress? Is it black and blue? Or is it white and gold?

Well, an audio version of The Dress has surfaced. What do you hear? Is it “Yanny” or “Laurel?”

It got extra-weird for me. When a friend forwarded me this text and I played it on my iPad, I clearly heard “Yanny.” But when I embedded THAT EXACT TWEET above, I heard “Laurel.” Then I went back to my iPad and I heard “Yanny” again What’s wrong with me?

From The Guardian:

Professor David Alais from the University of Sydney’s school of psychology says the Yanny/Laurel sound is an example of a “perceptually ambiguous stimulus” such as the Necker cube or the face/vase illusion.

“They can be seen in two ways, and often the mind flips back and forth between the two interpretations. This happens because the brain can’t decide on a definitive interpretation,” Alais says.

“If there is little ambiguity, the brain locks on to a single perceptual interpretation. Here, the Yanny/Laurel sound is meant to be ambiguous because each sound has a similar timing and energy content – so in principle it’s confusable.

“All of this goes to highlight just how much the brain is an active interpreter of sensory input, and thus that the external world is less objective than we like to believe.”

More here.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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