The great debate of dramatic illusions


The Internet is yet again abuzz about another audio illusion, which has divided the netizens. So, what have you rooted for? Yanny or Laurel? While a few have admitted to hearing neither of the two words, there’s an ongoing debate between teams on Yanny and Laurel.

Talking about this auditory illusion reminds us of how we were all once taken through this confusing phase with the blue or gold dress pictures, and the wet or painted legs. They are fun in the beginning, but when people are told what they see/hear isn’t right — there’s commotion and a series of arguments and counter-arguments.

How our brain process?

To understand why different people see, hear and react differently, we connected to a few experts who provided us an explanation behind the phenomenon.

Dr Venu Gopal, neurosurgeon, Yashoda Hospitals, says, “There’s an area in our temporal lobe that analyses exactly what you hear. So, what we hear and perceive depends on the individual’s state of mind which can result in the variation.” The doctor adds that the chemicals in our brain also monitor how our brain processes things.

Coming to the optical illusions, Dr Venu says that it depends on the manner and what one’s retina picks. “Comparatively, women are better in recognising colours than men. And, all of these depend on how our brain is tuned and the condition we grow up in,” he adds. Similarly, psychologist Sangeetha Kosuru says that appreciation of things around is wired to how the person is feeling and the condition of their developmental years. “There can be an illusion of the colours as well, but from a psychologist’s perspective, people want to see what they want to. Our response is connected to our memory and how we feel,” she says.

Nissi Rufus, psychologist at Asha Hospital, says, “All I know is that neurons in different parts of the brain and eyes work simultaneously leading to an ambiguous perception. Like the cones in the eyes which allow us to see colour and our visual cortex in the brain which helps us interpret the same.”

Settling it once and for all

Yanny or Laurel: The clip was taken from opera singer Jay Aubrey Jones where he actually said the word ‘Laurel’. The artiste also said in an interview that though he took some time to recognise his own voice, he is sure that he said ‘Laurel’. He further explained that due to the low audio quality some might have heard the former — as variations can be expected when played in different devices. May team Yanny find their peace!

Blue or gold dress: For those of you who didn’t know the answer, it’s a blue and black dress. Having said that, we cannot brush away that there can be more interpretations.

Wet or painted legs: After creating enough chaos, the shiny leg picture debate was settled with white painted legs. The glossy look was because of the white paint that was applied.

Pink/white or turquoise/grey: Another illusion which is related to colour constancy… While the actual answer is pink and white, the manipulated picture that was taken with camera flash gave the shoe a turquoise-and-grey shade throwing light on the importance of angle and lighting.