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Science & Technology

Silent animation makes a 'thudding' sound

By T.K. Randall
December 4, 2017 · Comment icon 28 comments

An animated GIF of a jumping pylon seems to create the illusion of sound even when there is none.
Watch this animation closely for a while - can you hear anything when the pylon hits the ground ?

This mind-bending audio illusion, which has been going viral over the last couple of days, shows a trio of electricity pylons using a length of cable as a skipping rope.

Despite the fact that there is no audio however, many people have reported hearing a distinct 'thudding' sound each time the jumping pylon hits the ground.
Dr Lisa DeBruine, a psychologist at the University of Glasgow, posted the animation on Twitter and then conducted a poll of 15,000 people to find out whether or not they could hear anything.

The results indicated that as many as 75% of those who viewed the image could perceive a sound.

According to Dr DeBruine, the reason for this is the ear's 'acoustic reflex' - a defensive mechanism designed to protect your hearing from an anticipated loud noise.

In this case the noise never comes, but that doesn't stop your ears 'squinting' in anticipation.

Source: | Comments (28)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #19 Posted by Ryu 6 years ago
Actually, the only sound I could imagine was that silly "Sproing!" sound in the game "Yoshi's Island". It is somewhat alarming that our brains are not fine tuned enough to decipher between real physical input and conditioned, imaginary sensations.
Comment icon #20 Posted by UFOwatcher 6 years ago
I must be a Neanderthal, I heard and felt Nothing, nada...
Comment icon #21 Posted by sanchez710 6 years ago
Nope, nothing for me.
Comment icon #22 Posted by Jon the frog 6 years ago
I react to the ground hit, not sure what it is but there some reaction for sure.
Comment icon #23 Posted by Herr Falukorv 6 years ago
The only sound I can hear here is my tinnitus 
Comment icon #24 Posted by TripGun 6 years ago
Facebook told me that if you don't hear it your a sociopath
Comment icon #25 Posted by bison 6 years ago
The more I concentrate on the animation, the more likely I am to hear a faint, dull thud when the power pylon appears to strike the ground. The original article indicates that this is not imagination, but a real, physiological process in the ear, in anticipation of hearing a sound, presumably mediated by the brain's perceptional areas. In the real world, an external sound would be heard, which would probably obscure the sound produced by the ear, itself. The repetition of the illusion of the  'jumping pylon' appears to reinforce the ear's response, over time.  
Comment icon #26 Posted by rashore 6 years ago
Wanted to update on this... This afternoon was fairly calm and less noise. And when I concentrated on/let relax and unfocus on what the illusion was, I could see/feel/hear the thud of the pylon landing almost instantly. Once I unfocused on it, I realized it was kind of a meditation thing- the heartbeats and counting off with the jumps for breathing. Clever thing that.  
Comment icon #27 Posted by XenoFish 6 years ago
I think the only reason those who hear the sound do, is because they were told they would. A form of suggestion.  Let's test this out shall we? If you keep staring at the watch long enough you'll hear it ticking. How many of you would?
Comment icon #28 Posted by MisterMan 6 years ago
I think it's very dangerous and irresponsible to have those electrical cables flailing around like that.

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