Remember the white and gold dress that some internet users were certain was actually blue and black? Well, this time the dilemma being discussed online is whether you can hear anything in a silent animation of skipping pylons. Some people claim they can hear a thudding sound when the pylon hits the ground and the picture vibrates.
The GIF shows two large pylons swinging their cables like a skipping rope, while third jumps over them rhythmically, shaking the camera every time it comes crashing to the ground.
There is no sound accompanying the animation, but a shocking number of people claim to be able to hear a thudding noise every time the pylon lands. Internet users on sites such as Reddit and Imgur have been discussing the phenomenon of noisy GIFs for well over six years now, with users of the latter describing the effect as ‘an optical illusion for the ears’.
This particular GIF was brought to the net’s attention again last week, when it was shared on Twitter by Dr Lisa DeBruine from the Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Glasgow.
See how Twitter reacted:
Does anyone in visual perception know why you can hear this gif? pic.twitter.com/mcT22Lzfkp
— Lisa DeBruine 🏳️🌈 (@lisadebruine) December 2, 2017
The thump is almost entirely in the shake, if you crop out the pylons themselves you can still hear it. They just give it height. pic.twitter.com/3LZK1g24yZ
— HappyToast ★ (@IamHappyToast) December 4, 2017
What do you experience when you watch this gif?
— Lisa DeBruine 🏳️🌈 (@lisadebruine) December 3, 2017
The mystery behind the sound has baffled many.
According to experts, the phenomenon could be because of synesthesia. The condition causes different senses to be “mixed.” For example, a person with synesthesia may taste sounds or hear colors. But another form of synesthesia, “hearing-motion” synesthesia, could explain “hearing” the GIF.As per James Simmons, a neuroscientist at Brown University who studies bat echolocation, the GIF is causing “cross-modality cognitive effect,” which means that people’s brains are internally combining vision with the perception of sound.
There are numerous movements that we automatically associate with accompanying noises. If someone drops a plate we expect to hear a smash.
Answering the question once and for all, the GIF’s creator confirmed that it is entirely to do with the apparent movement of the screen.