Have you ever turned down the radio, or TV thinking that you heard something…only to find out there was no sound at all? Well that happens often to many of us and there is actually an explanation to why that happens so often.
Take the GIF below for instance. The GIF was created by Twitter user Happy Toast. Do you hear anything when you play it?
WHY CAN I HEAR THIS GIF 😭 pic.twitter.com/8UifgPBk56
— Best Tweet (@BestTwlt) April 17, 2017
If you can, you’re among the majority. Dr. Lisa Debruine, a researcher at the University of Glasgow, created a poll asking users whether they could hear something from the gif. About 75 percent answered they could hear a thudding sound, while 3 percent reported hearing “something else.”
Does anyone in visual perception know why you can hear this gif? pic.twitter.com/mcT22Lzfkp
— Lisa DeBruine 🏳️🌈 (@lisadebruine) December 2, 2017
The phenomenon actually isn’t unique to this particular gif. Chances are you can also hear a similar thudding sound while watching the one below. Visual representations such as these show how what you see can influence what you hear — or, what you think you hear. For certain visual information and movements the brain is familiar with, such as jumping, it will sometimes produce the sounds it predicts will accompany them.
Another interesting phenomenon is the McGurk effect, which is explained in the BBC program below. It demonstrates again how visual information can alter your perception of what you hear through the way the man’s mouth is moving.