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May 16, 2018

Yanny or Laurel? The science behind the audio version of The Dress

Once there was the dress; now there’s Yanny or Laurel.

This audio illusion, which went viral after first appearing on Reddit, has the internet torn. After all, what kind of monster doesn’t hear Yanny?

When Verge Science listened to it this morning, fighting broke out between the Yanny and Laurel factions. (Ed. note: I briefly lost my mind, as I first heard Yanny, then heard Laurel for about two hours, and now hear Yanny again. Same device, same speakers. Please send help.) Obviously something was going on — so we called up some scientists to help us figure it out. According to Lars Riecke, an assistant professor of audition and cognitive neuroscience at Maastricht University, it’s not actually an illusion. In fact, it’s an ambiguous...

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