Yanny vs Laurel (and hearing aids)

Have you heard? Maybe “what do you hear?” is the better question.

Everyone is talking about the Yanny vs Laurel controversy. From the same soundbite recording, some people hear the word “Yanny” and some people hear the word “Laurel”. 

It is a sort of “ambiguity illusion.” Think about those “trick” pictures or optical illusions where you may see an old woman or young woman, two people talking or a chalice, or a duck or a bunny. By using shading, the artist allows two pictures to reside in the same space. 

Yanny vs Laurel is similar but for our ears. The correct word is “Laurel.” The “trick” was found when a high school student was doing research for their literature class. They looked up the word “Laurel” online and played the pronunciation. They heard “Yanny”. They posted it online and since, everyone has been asking “What do you hear?” 

Everyone’s hearing is different and unique

Our ears collect sound, send it to the brain and the brain interprets the sound. Scientists explain that the frequencies people are “tuned into” will impact what they hear. In addition, our brains will fill in gaps to help us figure out what we are hearing.

 “‘If I cut your ears off and put someone else's on your head, sounds would sound different,’ Howard Nusbaum, a psychologist who studies speech science at the University of Chicago, told Gizmodo. He explained that differently shaped ears focus sounds differently. You might actually hear sounds differently than the person next to you.” 

Everyone’s life experience, perspective, background and, therefore, their brains are unique. When we combine these unique pieces it is no wonder that the Yanny vs Laurel debate rages on. 

Individualized hearing care makes a difference 

So, what does this have to do with hearing aids? With so many unique variables and possible desired outcomes, it re-enforces the need to see a professional about your hearing needs. Only a trained hearing professional will work closely with you to understand why and how you hear the unique way you do (Yanny or Laurel), and ensure you get the solution and care you need to hear the way you want and should.

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By Starkey Hearing