Silence can be heard

Do you remember that song, from some time ago, by Simon & Garfunkel, “The Sounds of Silence”, can be considered as a metaphor. Today, however, science affirms that silence can be heard. A group of psychologists and philosophers conducted tests to prove that silence distorts “our perception of time”.

listening to silence

Scientific research confirms that silence can be heard

We think that hearing is related to the sounds we hear. Although silence can also be heard, even though it is the total absence of sound. They made a research that asserts this information.

This team of scientists studied a thousand people who underwent a series of auditory illusions based on silence. The results were the same as the auditory illusions that were based on sounds. This shows, according to these researchers, that silence can be heard.

It is a belief that dates back quite a long time

Philosophers have long believed that silence can be heard. However, no study has ever been done to prove it, until now. The researchers, from John Hopkins University, published their work in the journal Pnas.

They wondered whether silence can be perceived in the same way sound is perceived. Whether our brain treats sound the same way as the total absence of sound.

The result of the research is that the same illusions were obtained with silences as with sounds. This proves that, in the literal form of the word, silence can be heard.

silence can be heard

Auditory illusions are like optical illusions. Only that some of them deceive our ears and the others, our sight. Only that auditory illusions make people perceive longer or shorter periods of time than they really are.

Thus, one long beep may seem longer than two short beeps. However, both have the same total duration. Taking this auditory illusion as a basis, the scientists replaced the moments of sound with moments of silence.

The results were exactly the same, both in the silent cases and also in the sound cases. The silent illusions yielded the same results as the sound illusions. Participants in this study listened to simulations of the hustle and bustle of busy public places. They then listened to audio tracks in which silence broke abruptly for a few brief moments.

That the results were the same in both cases did not surprise the scientists. They only reaffirmed the results. Silence can be heard when sounds are completely turned off.

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