It’s the GIF “heard” ’round the world.
Why is it that viewers of a silent animated GIF featuring a transmission tower seemingly jumping off the ground and over power lines are “hearing” it crashing to the ground?
Does anyone in visual perception know why you can hear this gif? pic.twitter.com/mcT22Lzfkp
— Lisa DeBruine 🏳️🌈 (@LisaDeBruine) December 2, 2017
The GIF has people clearing their ears — because many claim to be “hearing” a sound that doesn’t actually exist.
Dr. Lisa DeBruine, a psychologist in Glasgow, Scotland, posed the inevitable question on Twitter, seeking data on how others experienced the phenomenon.
What do you experience when you watch this gif?
— Lisa DeBruine 🏳️🌈 (@LisaDeBruine) December 3, 2017
At the time of this writing, an overwhelming majority claimed to hear a thudding sound, but a significant percent of respondents said they heard nothing.
DeBruine, obsessed with finding an answer, theorized the thud some viewers hear is simply the ear’s reflex anticipating a sound.
Other experts point to a sensory illusion at play.
“Perception is not an exact science, and in most cases our brain makes an educated guess,” Dr. Gustav Khun, a psychologist and human perception expert at Goldsmiths University in London, told the Daily Mail.
“We use past experience and expectations to estimate what the world is truly like, based on the information our senses provide.”