A SILENT animation that tricks the brain into “hearing” a sound has caused a stir on TikTok.
The short clip shows an electricity pylon jumping over power lines like a skipping rope, causing the screen to “shake” each time it lands.
Some people report that they hear the sound of the pylon hitting the ground – a thudding or boinging noise.
But the sound isn’t really there and is in fact caused by a curious auditory illusion, according to experts.
The puzzling GIF has been around for years but gained traction again earlier this year after it was posted on TikTok.
User Paranormal Princess shared it with her 2.5million followers on May 25.
“This is so trippy,” she says in the clip, which has racked up more than 60,000 views. “It will make you hear things that aren’t really there.”
The illusion, created by Twitter user @IAmHappyToast, first went viral in 2017 after it was shared by a psychology expert at the University of Glasgow.
Dr Lisa DeBruine tweeted the animation, asking: “Does anyone in visual perception know why you can hear this gif?”
She created a poll asking her followers whether or not they heard a sound when watching the animation.
Seventy-five per cent – around 15,000 respondents – claimed that they heard “a thudding sound”.
Fourteen per cent of respondents, just under 3,000 in total, said they heard no sound.
A of the 20,000 polled said that they heard “something else”.
Experts believe that the “sound” is imagined by the brain because it expects a loud sound to accompany the sight of a collision.
Dr Gustav Khun, a psychologist and human perception expert at Goldsmiths University in London, told MailOnline in 2017: “Perception is not an exact science and in most cases our brain makes an educated guess.
“We use past experience and expectations to estimate what the world is truly like, based on the information our senses provide.
“This illusion works because you have learnt that when larger objects fall to the ground, they result in a thumping sound.
“Some viewers will actually hear the sound, simply because that is what they expect will happen.”
Professor Fiona Macpherson, an expert at the University of Glasgow’s Illusion Index, added: “It is expectation that is causing some people to hear the thuds.
“In the GIF of the jumping pylon, there is a cross-modal expectation (that is, involving more than one sense, such as vision and hearing) effect taking place.
“What people see is affecting what they seem to hear.”
Optical illusions are often just a bit of fun, but they also hold real value for scientists.
The brain puzzles help researchers shed light on the inner workings of the mind and how it reacts to its surroundings.
Speaking to The Sun earlier this month, Dr Kuhn explained that illusions are important to our understanding of the brain.
“We typically take perception for granted, and rarely think about the hard work that underpins everyday tasks, such as seeing a cup of coffee in front of you,” he said.
“Visual illusions highlight errors in perception, and they provide important glimpses into the hidden neural processes that allow us to see the world around us.”
It follows the release of a spooky illusion earlier this month that makes the viewer feel as though they are tumbling into a black hole.
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