According to new research, the brain actively processes silence, which explains why we pay attention to silence in discussions, suspenseful pauses between thunderclaps, or the quietness at the end of a musical performance.

This argument is substantiated by seven trials involving 1,000 individuals, which revealed that silence, like sound, may fool the mind. The study discovered that one continuous silence lasts longer than two separate silences, similar to how sound tricks can alter perception, such as playing continuous or separate electronic tones.

Dr Chaz Firestone, the senior author of the study from Johns Hopkins University, remarked on the paradoxical nature of silence and how these findings suggest that our brains process silence as if it were a sound. He mentioned that there may be some truth to the phrase “the sound of silence” after all.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, presented participants with single and double silences in the presence of background noise, such as a train, a loud restaurant, a bustling market, a playground, or white noise. People evaluated the one silence to be longer than the two individual silences when asked to compare, echoing their perception of noises.

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