Last week, a new controversy revealed to us just how subjective our perception of reality can be. People listening to a clip or a digital voice saying “laurel,” but recorded from unclear speakers, was actually heard as “yanny,” by a significant number of people.

It turns out, the problem was caused by people hearing different pitched tones in the voice. This insight can have significance for people trying to get dentures that help them be understood when they speak.

What Causes the Phenomenon

How could people hear such different words when listening to the same audio clip? (We could understand if some heard “Laurel,” and others heard “Hardy,” but Yanni? That guy’s hair is way too long!)

It turns out, the phonic components of both words are actually embedded in the same audio. Although they seem distinct, linguists say, the energy concentrations for “Ya” are similar to “La,” “N” is similar to “R,” and “I” is close to “L”. The difference in the way we perceive them comes from the frequencies we hear when we listen to the sound. Lower-frequency sounds were more likely to carry the word “laurel,” but higher frequency sounds were more likely to carry “yanny.”

There are many reasons why you might hear one or the other. It depends on the speakers you hear it first on (they always distort pitch to some extent), but also on what can be described as your “ear-print,” your tendency to preferentially hear some sounds and not others.

The New York Times created a pitch modulation tool that lets you hear both words , even if you’re “soundly” in one camp or the other. It’s worth messing around with it to see how your perception changes. You can also get a sense of how much your brain is controlling the pattern if you experiment with scrolling slowly from one side to the other and see when you change over. (SPOILER: It’s probably different coming from one way than the other!)

What Does This Have to Do with Dentures?

Okay, so we’ve cleared up one mystery, but now you’re probably baffled by the other mystery in the blog: what does this have to do with dentures?

Simple: your dentures don’t just change the enunciation of your letters, they can change the pitch of your voice. This means that, even if you are shaping the sounds clearly , they might not be heard the same way by some of your audience. You could end up in situations where some people hear completely different words.

Proper Denture Fit Could Preserve Your Voice

We’re not entirely sure what causes the vocal changes for people with dentures. Some of it is related to changes in the mouth as resonating chamber. But it’s also related to tongue position and the position of the larynx.

The position of your larynx is determined, in part, by the position of  your jaw. If dentures put your jaw at a different position, it can shift the position of your larynx and change the pitch of your voice.

That’s another potential benefit of the neuromuscular fit of FOY ® Dentures . This fit ensures your jaw is at the natural position determined by your muscles, tendons, and jaw joints. This will not only help preserve your voice, it will help you avoid jaw pain, headaches, and other TMJ symptoms that sometimes come with poorly fitting dentures.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of proper denture fit in Columbia, SC, please call (803) 781-9090 today for an appointment with a denture dentist at Smile Columbia Dentistry.