2 MIT Brain Scientists Explain 'Yanny Vs. Laurel' Internet Phenom


First, the perceptual mystery goes viral: Is this dress blue and black or white and gold?

Then comes the after-wave of scientific explanations. When the dress craze hit in 2015, Boston-area neuropsychiatrist Dr. Jon Lieff explained why we care: The dress illusion "informs people that perception is not what it seems," he said. "We think we see reality when in reality, what we see is what the brain wants us to see."

Now, if you live on Planet Earth, you've probably already been interrupted by a fellow human insisting on playing you a cryptic bit of sound that reads as "Laurel" to some and "Yanny" to others.

It's a bit of sensory weirdness that's naturally of particular interest to audiophiles, and NPR has posted quite an exhaustive piece on the whole thing here: 'Yanny' Or 'Laurel'? Why People Hear Different Things In That Viral Clip.

But for a quick, light and smart explanation, I'd recommend the score-settling by two MIT neuroscientists, Dana Boebinger and Kevin Sitek, in the McGovern Institute for Brain Research video by Julie Pryor below:

Readers: Is it clear now? Or do questions remain for you? We'll ask the McGovern folks to respond if so...


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Carey Goldberg Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.



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