The Internet is freaking out over this Green Needle/Brainstorm meme and users are arguing which word is actually being said. A woman in the video points above her head to the two choices. Then audio plays and people weigh in on what they’ve heard. The phenomenon is actually older than this TikTok. Back in July, Emily Sophie actually had a video catch similar steam with the exact same formula. If this all feels eerily similar to what came before, that’s because it has shades of the Yanny vs. Laurel debate from recent memory, which also featured weird audio. We can’t list these other instances without gesturing towards Cates Holderness’ BuzzFeed masterpiece on the blue and black dress and the chaos that viral photo created on the Internet. So, these kinds of challenges will endure for a while. As for you, what did you hear when you played the clip?
Commenter wisty35 said, “It’s literally a trick. The video knows you are going to read green needle before you read brainstorm so the recording says green needle first and then brainstorm. Try reading brainstorm first and then green needle.”
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TIME actually talked to Dr. Kevin Franck from Massachusetts Eye and Ear about the audio phenomena we see on the web these days. The director of audiology actually had some wisdom about why our ears and brains can become confused by these challenges.
“This all comes down to the brain,” Dr. Franck said. “The fact that brains go in one way and some brains go in the other means that we’re all just wired a bit differently based on our experiences.”
“Spoken language puts relatively arbitrary barriers around sound to turn it into very different meanings. Those boundaries could be drastically or subtly different for each of us,” he added. “The brain is built to turn messy signals into meaning. It just will not give you ambiguity.”
So, did you hear Green Needle or Brainstorm? Let us know down in the comments!