December 07, 2017

Can You Hear This Silent GIF?

by Neha Monga

GIF’s are short animations that do not have a sound. But a gif that was first created in 2008 by Twitter user @IamHappyToast has resurfaced and become viral on social media. Reason? People claim that they can ‘hear’ the gif.

Many people are claiming that they can hear a “thudding” in their head each time the bouncing electricity pylon hits the ground.

The GIF shows two large pylons swinging their cables like a skipping rope, while a third jumps over them, shaking the camera every time it hits the ground.

Dr Lisa DeBruine, a psychology researcher at the University of Glasgow, on December 3, asked her 2,500 followers on Twitter whether they could “hear” the GIF.  She also conducted a poll to see how many people could hear the gif.

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According to the poll in which over 311,000 have voted till now, a whopping 67% could hear “a thudding sound” as compared to 20% who said they hear “nothing.”

So, if you hear that thud each time the pylon hits the ground, you are not alone.

The tweet which has been liked over 42,000 times has left everyone confused.

So, what is the actual theory behind this illusion?

Christopher Fassnidge, a doctoral candidate in psychology at City, University of London, who has been conducting research on the phenomena said, this illusion is an example of synesthesia, which is when people experience an event, like a sound, because of its connection to another sense.

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“I suspect the noisy GIF phenomenon is closely related to what we call the Visually-Evoked Auditory Response, or vEAR for short,” explained Fassnidge to the BBC.

“We are constantly surrounded by movements that make a sound, whether they are footsteps as people walk, lip movements while they talk, a ball bouncing in the playground, or the crash as we drop a glass. There is some evidence to suggest that synaesthetic pairings are, to some extent, learned during infancy.”

“I might assume I am hearing the footsteps of a person walking on the other side of the street, when really the sound exists only in my mind,” Fassnidge continued.

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“So this may be a common phenomenon because the sound makes sense, but for that exact reason we may not even know we have this unusual ability until the noisy gif suddenly came along in the last few years.

“What determines who experiences vEAR and how intensely is probably individual differences in how our brain is wired.”

So, did you hear the ‘thud?’

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