What word do YOU hear in this viral TikTok audio illusion? Expert explains what it means | The Sun

A VIRAL video has left TikTok users baffled, as listeners can hear completely different words.

It makes zero sense – but an expert has explained the science behind the audio illusion. 


The viral clip, which has been shared across multiple platforms and profiles, asks viewers to either read the words “Brainstorm” or “Green Needle” on the screen as the audio plays. 

Bizarrely, the reader will only hear the word they are reading as the audio is repeated. 

You can switch between the two words, and hear both clearly depending which one you are looking at.

The TikTok is reminiscent of another viral clip that caused mass confusion back in 2020.

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In this clip, some people heard the word “Yanny”, whilst others heard “Laurel”.

It turned out that the audio did in fact say "Laurel", as confirmed by the actor who did the voice-over.

But it is not yet clear whether the voice in the new clip intended to say "Green Needle" or "Brainstorm" – likely the latter, given it is a legitimate term.

So, how do these mind tricks – which have been causing people to question their own reality and even trust in their sense of hearing – work? 

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Katie Ogden, Audiologist and the Training Manager of hearing aid provider ReSound North West Europe, explained the phenomenon.

She said the brain is essentially “filling in missing gaps” with low quality audio – suggesting it happens day-to-day, too.

Katie said: “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.”

Katie said it may seem “utterly baffling” that two separate words, with completely different sounds, can both be heard by the brain.

“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,” Katie said.

“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.”

Katie said if you feel as though you are experiencing any concerns about your hearing, take this simple online hearing test.

It can help to identify in just three minutes whether you may have any difficulties understanding speech in noise.

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It comes after we revealed that this optical illusion can hint if you feel trapped in life, depending on what you see.

And if you can spot the animal in this field within seven seconds, you're in the top one per cent of viewers.

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