Tuesday 17 July 2018

Can you hear ‘brainstorm’ or ‘green needle’? This ear teaser lets you decide

Forget yanny and laurel, there’s a new ear teaser in town.

The toy making the noise (DosmRider/YouTube/PA)
The toy making the noise (DosmRider/YouTube/PA)

By Edd Dracott, Press Association

You may have heard the “yanny” and “laurel” debate that divided the internet in recent days, but incredibly there’s a new teaser that gives you a choice about what you’re hearing.

The video shows a toy which lights up and says “brainstorm”, but many have said if you think of the words “green needle” as you watch you can hear that instead – listen to this a few times and try it out.

The intriguing clip was taken from a YouTube video from 2014 by DosmRider, a reviewer of collectables, but was shared on Reddit before exploding and going viral across social media platforms.

“The toy is supposed to say Brainstorm,” DosmRider told the Press Association. “It’s the character’s name in the show Ben 10 Alien Force and the name is used in all the merchandise and the show.

“I first saw (the clip) was being used when it was brought to my attention by some of my followers on Twitter.

“I was pretty surprised given that I usually don’t see any toy reviews or anything like that getting this kind of attention – just seems hilariously random to me.”

The ear teaser comes the same week a clip hit headlines across the world and divided people between those who heard “laurel” and those who heard “yanny”.

One scientific explanation given for the phenomenon was that individuals’ ears picked up different frequencies, with one word, “yanny”, at a higher pitch than the other, “laurel”.

Professor of speech Valerie Hazan added: “It is also the case that you are priming people to hear one word or another by telling them what the options are so that will also push them to perceive things they may not have without prompting.”

This nature of priming one’s brain to hear something appears to be the case with this new phenomenon, with the action of thinking of the phrase “green needle” making you hear it.

YouTubers ASAPScience posted an excellent explanation of this, the principles of which can be applied to the new clip.

“I heard Laurel,” said DosmRider. “This debate really amused me, mainly just to see people stop what they are doing to discuss something funny like this so seriously.”

Reddit user squidjeep posted the clip from DosmRider’s video to Reddit, where it first went viral.

“These videos do well on the internet because it’s really cool to see how people’s brains work,” they said. “People can be given similar inputs yet interpret them in such different ways.”

“I only heard yanny once at the beginning and then heard laurel very clearly each time after which was really weird.

“The brainstorm/green needle thing is even weirder though because it turns two syllables into three, and the words have completely different inflections too and you can change it at will just based on what you think about.”

Given the way things are going, we’ve likely not seen the end of this ear teasing business.

Press Association

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