A Gifs is a short animation, but unlike video, they carry no sound. This is why it is extremely strange that 75 percent of people are claiming to be able to hear this one.
It’s a gif you have possibly seen before, as it commonly pops up with different captions claiming they can hear the silent short.
The gif was created by Twitter user Happy Toast, and has resurfaced urging scientists to explain why why so many people are hearing the noise.
Does anyone in visual perception know why you can hear this gif? pic.twitter.com/mcT22Lzfkp
— Lisa DeBruine 🏳️🌈 (@LisaDeBruine) December 2, 2017
Can you hear it? If so you are not alone.
Dr Lisa Debruine, a researcher from the University of Glasgow, included a poll to see how many people were hearing the gif and 67 percent of people claim to hear a thudding noise.
What do you experience when you watch this gif?
— Lisa DeBruine 🏳️🌈 (@LisaDeBruine) December 3, 2017
It is not just exclusive to GIFs but sound can also be manipulated. The McGurk effect, is shown in this video from BBC’s Horizon and reveals how your brain can be manipulated into hearing different sounds based on what you see at the time.
In this video, you cannot tell if you are hearing “baa” or “faa” because of the movement of the man’s mouth.
Visual stimulants alone can work in the manipulation of what we perceive to hear. According to a recent study 22% of its participants heard faint sounds when shown silent flashes of light.
Around 5% of the population have something called synesthesia, a phenomenon in which senses are perceived in a different way- for example sound is seen as colour. However, this study revealed that a lot more people actually hear motion in response to visual stimulus.
So it is possible for clever imagery to trigger an auditory response, even if there is no actual sound, this gif of the skipping power pylons may be the perfect example of this.