Silence experiment John Hopkins

Research Suggests That We Can Hear Silence

Researchers at a leading university in the United States have concluded that it’s possible to hear silence. For many years, philosophers wrapped their heads around this subject searching for evidence. The team of researchers are stating that auditory illusions substantiate this assumption by looking at the results of this research. Have a look down below to find out if its really possible to hear silence.


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Rui Zhe Goh, a former student of philosophy and psychology at Johns Hopkins University and the author of this study, states,


“Surprisingly, what our work suggests is that nothing is also something you can hear.” 


During this research, a total of 1000 people were asked to experience silence-based illusions. The participants had to listen to 2 audio fragments simulating a busy restaurant, market, and train station. Both fragments included periods of silence, one long one and 2 shorter ones, which amounted to the same length of time. Researchers noted,


“It was that the same illusions that scientists thought could only be triggered with sounds worked just as well when the sounds were replaced by silences.” 


The results were surprising as the main goal of reworking auditory illusions into the one-silence-is more illusions succeeded. The subjects of the experiment indicated that the fragment including one long moment of silence was longer than the fragment with 2 shorter periods of silence.


Auditory illusions trick the brain by letting you hear periods of time as being shorter or longer than they actually are. This simple but effective method shows the world that our brain treats silences the way it treats sounds. The fact that the results were the same with this illusion and a sound-based illusion suggests that we can “hear” silence.


Co-author and Professor of Philosophy and Psychological & Brain Sciences Ian Phillips said on the experiment,


“The kinds of illusions and effects that look like they are unique to the auditory processing of a sound, we also get them with silences, suggesting we really do hear absences of sound too.” 


The experiment is available to everyone. Try it out yourself and see if your brain gets tricked by the illusion.


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Image Credits: John Hopkins University

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