Members in the Media
From: The New York Times

Silence Is a ‘Sound’ You Hear, Study Suggests

The hush at the end of the musical performance. The pause in a dramatic speech. The muted moment when you turn off the car. What is it that we hear when we hear nothing at all? Are we detecting silence? Or are we just hearing nothing and interpreting that absence as silence?

The “Sound of Silence” is a philosophical question that made for one of Simon & Garfunkel’s most enduring songs, but it’s also a subject that can be tested by psychologists. In a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers used a series of sonic illusions to show that people perceive silences much as they hear sounds. While the study offers no insight into how our brains might be processing silence, the results suggest that people perceive silence as its own type of “sound,” not just as a gap between noises.

Read the whole story (subscription may be required): The New York Times

More of our Members in the Media >

APS regularly opens certain online articles for discussion on our website. Effective February 2021, you must be a logged-in APS member to post comments. By posting a comment, you agree to our Community Guidelines and the display of your profile information, including your name and affiliation. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations present in article comments are those of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of APS or the article’s author. For more information, please see our Community Guidelines.

Please login with your APS account to comment.