People Swear They Can ‘Hear’ This GIF, Can You?



GIFs have changed the way we use the internet. These short bursts of video are able to convey so many ideas, opinions, and feelings in only a few seconds. They are able to impart so much information without any audio. However, people swear they can “hear” sound in a new GIF despite it having no sound whatsoever. Confused yet? Let’s check it out to see if you can “hear” the silent GIF.

This puzzling GIF from 2008 of power towers jumping electric cables was posted by Dr. Lisa DeBruine from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow on Twitter and she asked, “Does anyone in visual perception know why you can hear this gif?”

WHAT THE WHAT?!?! I can hear or unconsciously imagine the sound of the thump and the thud of the transmission towers slamming into the ground.

But not everyone can hear the sound that’s not actually there. Lisa posted a poll and found that 55% of people could hear a thud from the GIF while 24% said they heard nothing. There’s actually a scientific theory that can explain why you think you hear the boom of the impact.

There is a theory that our eyes see the potential for an incoming shockwave and our ears are preparing for the loud noise by closing up to prevent damage. Our brain associates the image of a big collision with the sound of an ear-deafening bang which generates the fake noise as an “auditory illusion.”

Trevor Cox, a professor of acoustic engineering, said, “We also tend to think of our senses as being separate, but our brain collates responses from all senses to work out what is going on. So I would say it is likely to be some effect in the brain rather than a physical effect like the acoustic reflex.”

Let’s go to Wikipedia for the definition of acoustic reflex.

When presented with a high-intensity sound stimulus, the stapedius and tensor tympani muscles of the ossicles contract. The stapedius stiffens the ossicular chain by pulling the stapes (stirrup) of the middle ear away from the oval window of the cochlea and the tensor tympani muscle stiffens the ossicular chain by loading the tympanic membrane when it pulls the malleus (hammer) in toward the middle ear. The reflex decreases the transmission of vibrational energy to the cochlea, where it is converted into electrical impulses to be processed by the brain.

Others had their own explanations for the odd phenomenon.

Want more viral internet wackiness, check out this cheerleader stepping over an imaginary box that has the internet shook.