Green needle or brainstorm? Viral TikTok video makes you only hear the word that you read

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The viral clip causes viewers to only hear the word that their eyes are reading at the time

TikTok users have been left baffled by a viral video which causes people to hear two completely different words every time the clip is played.

The recently resurfaced video asks listeners which of two short phrases they can hear, with people saying they can only hear the words that their eyes are reading at the time.

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What word do you hear? (Photo: @dr_Chris10 / TikTok)What word do you hear? (Photo: @dr_Chris10 / TikTok)
What word do you hear? (Photo: @dr_Chris10 / TikTok) | @dr_Chris10 / TikTok

What word do you hear?

The bizarre video clip was originally shared by TikTok user Emily Sophie, from Wales, back in 2020 and it quickly attracted more than five million views.

It has since been shared on multiple platforms and profiles, with TikTokker Christian Rizea recently posting the baffling audio again.

The video asks viewers to read the words ‘green needle’ or ‘brainstorm’ when listening to the clip. Bizarrely, you should only hear the word that you are reading on the screen when the audio plays.

The video sparked huge debate online and fascinated celebrities, including actor and comedian Ricky Gervais, who retweeted the video and said: “It also works if you close your eyes and just think of the one you want to hear”.

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Others also noted that if you think ‘brain needle’ or ‘green storm’ in your head, it is possible to hear those words in the audio.

How does the audio illusion work?

Katie Ogden, audiologist and training Manager of hearing aid provider ReSound North West Europe, said the different sounds occur because of the connections your brain is attempting to make.

Explaining the phenomenon, she said: “While it may seem utterly baffling that what you hear sounds completely different depending on the word you are reading at the time, essentially it comes down to the connections your brain is attempting to make.

“With two words as different and unconnected as ‘brainstorm’ and ‘green needle’, your brain is receiving the sounds via your ear canal, and trying to turn the messy signals into something that makes sense and has meaning, which is why you hear something very specific and defined each time the audio plays.

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“Your brain is being primed to expect a certain acoustic pattern based on which word you happen to be looking at and digesting as the audio plays.

“The audio in the clip is relatively low quality, so you’re not actually hearing either words in the audio, your brain is - in fact - filling in the missing gaps for you.

“Examples like this viral sensation help to further prove the incredible wonders regarding the sense of hearing and its connection to the brain.

Yanny or Laurel?

The clip is similar to another viral video that caused mass confusion in 2018 which asked viewers what word they could hear.

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What word do you hear? (Photo: @cozzau / TikTok)What word do you hear? (Photo: @cozzau / TikTok)
What word do you hear? (Photo: @cozzau / TikTok) | @cozzau / TikTok

Some people heard the word ‘Yanny’, while others could hear the word ‘Laurel’.

It is thought that those who picked up lower frequencies of the sound can hear the word ‘Laurel’, while those who perceived the higher frequencies heard ‘Yanny’.

One TikTok user said: “I cannot hear anything close to Laurel. Only hear Yanny.”

A second wrote: “There’s 2 types of people. People that hear laurel and liars.”

“Laurel all day every day”, another said.

A fourth added: “I hear Yanny first. but now its all Laurel.. I dont know will I be able to hear Yanny again.”

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