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This study examined the phenomenological characteristics of inner speech during silent reading (inner reading voices or IRVs), a type of inner speech that may be particularly amenable to empirical study. A survey was conducted in the general population to assess IRV frequency, location, number, identity, and controllability, and auditory qualities of IRVs. Of 570 survey respondents, 80.7% reported sometimes or always hearing an inner voice during silent reading, and the remaining 19.3% reported always understanding words being read without hearing an inner voice. Results indicated that IRVs are a routine experience for many, with 34.2% of respondents with IRVs hearing an IRV every time something was read, and 45% reporting an IRV often. Most respondents reported IRVs with specific auditory qualities such as gender, accent, pitch, loudness, and emotional tone. IRVs were reported in participants' own voices, as well as in the voices of other people. Some respondents reported being unable to control any aspect of their IRVs, while others could control one or several aspects. These results indicate that there is considerable individual variation in inner speech during silent reading.
Cognition and Neurosciences
Characteristics of inner reading voices
New York University, New York, USA
Vilhauer, R. P. (2017). Characteristics of inner reading voices. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology.
This study examined the phenomenological characteristics of inner speech during silent reading (inner reading voices or IRVs), a type of inner speechthat
may be particularly amenable to empirical study. A survey was conducted in the general population to assess IRV frequency, location, number, identity,
and controllability, and auditory qualities of IRVs. Of 570 survey respondents, 80.7% reported sometimes or always hearing an inner voice during silent
reading, and the remaining 19.3% reported always understanding words being read without hearing an inner voice. Results indicated that IRVs are a
routine experience for many, with 34.2% of respondents with IRVs hearing an IRV every time something was read, and 45% reporting an IRV often. Most
respondents reported IRVs with specic auditory qualities such as gender, accent, pitch, loudness, and emotional tone. IRVs were reported in participants
own voices, as well as in the voices of other people. Some respondents reported being unable to control any aspect of their IRVs, while others could
control one or several aspects. These results indicate that there is considerable individual variation in inner speech during silent reading.
Key words: Inner speech, auditory hallucination, silent reading, intrusive thoughts, inner reading voice, subvocal speech.
Ruvanee P.Vilhauer,New York University,6 Washington Place,New York 10003,USA. E-mail:
Although inner speech is difcult to study, signicant advances
have been made in recent years. Many authors now consider inner
speech to have both articulatory (motor or subvocalization) and
auditory (sensory or imagery) components (Alderson-Day &
Fernyhough, 2015; Evans, McGuire & David, 2000; Hurlburt,
Heavey & Kelsey 2013; Perrone-Bertolotti, Rapin, Lachaux,
Baciu & Loevenbruck, 2014). Thus, inner speech could be
dened as the subjective phenomenon of talking to oneself, of
developing an auditory-articulatory image of speech without
uttering a sound(Levine et al., 1982, p. 391).
One factor that motivates interest in inner speech is its potential
connection to auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs), which are
considered symptomatic of several psychological disorders
(American Psychiatric Association, 2013), but also occur in
individuals without a diagnosable disorder (cf. Johns, Kompus,
Connell et al., 2014). Many theories posit that AVHs arise when
inner speech is misattributed to a source other than the self
(cf. Allen, Aleman & Mcguire, 2007; Garrett & Silva, 2003).
Similarities between inner speech and AVHs are important
considerations when considering the plausibility of these theories.
In fact, some objections to these theories (Jones, 2010; Wu, 2012)
are based on the grounds that AVHs usually have auditory
qualities (e.g. Nayani & David, 1996) such as gender and
loudness, and often occur in voices distinct from the hearers own
voice, while inner speech is assumed to not have these properties
(Jones, 2010: Wu, 2012).
Until recently, limited evidence has been available to contradict
these assumptions. Langdon et al. (2009) found that 37.9% of
clinically-diagnosed individuals with AVHs and 24.5% of healthy
controls with no AVHs reported inner speech that sometimes had
the sound quality of a voice, but did not explore these vocal
qualities further. Hurlburt et al. (2013), using Descriptive
Experience Sampling, found that inner speech often has the vocal
qualities of speech spoken aloud, such as volume, inection,
hesitations and emotion, but occurs only rarely in other peoples
voices. However, studies using the Varieties of Inner Speech
Questionnaire (VISQ) suggested that inner speech in other
peoples voices occurs in a substantial minority of individuals
(Alderson-Day & Fernyhough, 2015; McCarthy-Jones &
Fernyhough, 2011). A recent qualitative study (Vilhauer, 2016)
provided additional evidence by demonstrating that, while reading
silently, many people experience inner voices that are not only
subjectively audible, but often have identities distinct from the
Although interest in inner speech during silent reading has a
long history (Pintner, 1913), few empirical studies have examined
the auditory quality of inner speech while reading (Perrone-
Bertolotti et al., 2014). Some brain-imaging studies have
demonstrated activation of voice-selective areas in the auditory
cortex during silent reading (Perrone-Bertolotti, Kujala, Vidal
et al., 2012; Yao, Belin & Scheepers, 2011), and some
experimental work suggests that readers who engage in auditory
imagery may hear words as they read silently (Alexander &
Nygaard, 2008; Kurby, Magliano & Rapp, 2009). Others have
shown that features of overt speech, such as accents, are
preserved in inner speech during silent reading (Filik & Barber,
Inner speech while reading (which will be referred to hereafter
as inner reading voices, or IRVs), like other types of inner
speech, could potentially provide insight into AVHs. IRVs could
be especially useful because they may be more conducive to
empirical study than other types of inner speech. As other
researchers have noted (Alderson-Day & Fernyhough, 2015), the
study of inner speech presents methodological challenges. Self-
report instruments that require participants to generalize their
experiences of inner speech, such as questionnaires and diaries,
© 2017 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 2017 DOI: 10.1111/sjop.12368
provide useful information, but data may be distorted by recall
biases and participantspreconceptions about inner speech
(Alderson-Day & Fernyhough, 2015; Hurlburt et al., 2013).
Experience sampling, a method which requires participants to
describe their experiences at randomly sampled moments, is a
promising alternative to studying inner speech, but is still subject
to self-report biases. Although some have argued that a variation
of this method, Descriptive Experience Sampling, can circumvent
these biases by iteratively training participants to describe their
experiences (Hurlburt et al., 2013), it is possible that such
training may also affect the way participants respond.
Because of these methodological problems, as noted elsewhere,
inner speech may be best studied using a combination of methods
(Alderson-Day & Fernyhough, 2015). Unfortunately, most
spontaneous inner speech is difcult to study experimentally.
IRVs, on the other hand, can be studied experimentally, because
unlike other types of inner speech, they can both arise
spontaneously and yet be tied to a specic activity, namely
reading (i.e., in some individuals, IRVs arise whenever reading
occurs, so it would be possible to elicit spontaneous inner speech
in such individuals by having them read silently during an
experimental situation). However, more needs to be known about
the phenomenology of IRVs before we can develop standardized
instruments to measure this type of inner speech, and go beyond
surveys to design experimental studies.
The objective of the present study was to examine IRV
phenomenology, using a survey design. The research question
addressed was, What are the phenomenological characteristics of
IRVs?The intent was not to assess the prevalence of IRVs or
their characteristics in a random sample, but rather to describe the
phenomenon of IRVs in as much detail as possible.
IRVs were dened as inner voices experienced while reading without
moving the lips. As no standardized questionnaire about IRVs currently
exists, an instrument, the Inner Experiences While Reading Questionnaire
(IEWR), was designed to address the research question, following
established guidelines for questionnaire design. Content of questionnaire
items was based partly on results of a qualitative study of IRVs (Vilhauer,
2016). Content validity was further addressed by seeking input from
individuals who reported having IRVs. The researchers familiarity with
the published literature on AVHs also contributed to questionnaire
construction; an effort was made to include items that would enable
exploration of phenomenological similarities and differences between
AVHs and IRVs. The draft questionnaire was piloted on a small sample
that included both individuals with and without IRVs. The questionnaire
was revised based on the adequacy of questionnaire items to capture these
individualsinner experiences of reading. The revised questionnaire was
piloted on another small sample to ensure face validity.
Questionnaire items 16 assessed demographic variables, including
age, gender, and enjoyment and frequency of reading. A 4-point scale
was used to assess enjoyment of reading, from 0 (not at all) to 3 (very
much), and reading frequency (of print books, print periodicals, and
digital content), from 0 (never) to 3 (very often). Item 7 asked whether
respondents heard an imagined inner voice while reading the
questionnaire or just understood the questions without hearing an
imagined inner voice. Item 8 asked whether respondents ever heard an
IRV. Respondents who answered afrmatively to item 8 were directed
to additional items. Item 9 asked about reading occasions in which
IRVs were heard. Items 1013 asked about IRV frequency, location,
identity and number, respectively. Items 1418 assessed auditory quality
of IRVs by asking about gender, accent, pitch, loudness, and emotional
tone of voices heard. Item 19 also attempted to assess auditory quality
of IRVs, by asking whether respondents thought IRVs like theirs could
be present in congenitally deaf individuals. Items 20 and 21 were open-
ended, and asked respondents to explain their afrmative or negative
answers to item 19. Item 22 and 23 asked whether IRVs were
controllable, and if so, which qualities were controllable. Item 24 and
25 asked, respectively, whether IRVs positively or negatively affect
reading experience, with response choices being yes,”“noand
unsure.Respondents who were unsure were asked to explain why.
Item 26 asked whether respondents thought others had IRVs.
The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB)
at Felician University, where the study was initiated, and
subsequently exempted from review by the IRB at New York
University. The online tool SurveyMonkey was used to
administer the questionnaire, which was widely disseminated
online, via social networks and web forums. A link to the
questionnaire was posted, along with a brief explanatory message
and an invitation to share the link, on a number of Facebook
groups dealing with topics such as psychology, neuroscience,
reading, creative writing, and creativity. Because the study sought
to describe IRVs in the general population, Facebook groups
dealing specically with psychopathology or voice hearing were
excluded. The explanatory message posted mentioned that only
those 18 or older were eligible to participate, that the
questionnaire was about the range of normal inner experiences
people had while reading, and that some people hear voices while
reading while others do not. The questionnaire link was also
posted on several personal Facebook pages of individuals known
to the author. These Facebook pages had large numbers of
friendswho were not associated with the author, and who were
highly diverse with respect to demographic variables such as age,
gender, education, relationship status, economic status,
occupation, racial/ethnic/religious background, and country of
residence. In addition, the link was posted on several online
reading-related forums with an international reach. The
questionnaire was anonymous, and usually took between 2 and 10
minutes to complete. Responses were collected between 8/29/14
and 11/23/14.
A total of 574 individuals began the questionnaire, and 571 and
570, respectively, responded to the two items that asked whether
IRVs were present, although only 414 completed the
questionnaire without skipping any items. The age distribution
(N =570) was: 17.5% 1825 years, 29.7% 2640, 41.1% 4159,
and 11.8% 60 years or above. The sample was 69.6% female and
29.9% male, with 0.5% identifying as other.Reading
enjoyment was high, with 77.8% reporting enjoying reading very
much. A majority (62.4%) reported reading books very often, and
91.3% reported reading digital content, including Internet content
and text messages, very often. Frequency of reading print
periodicals was more widely distributed, with 40.6% reporting
reading them very often.
© 2017 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
2R. P. Vilhauer Scand J Psychol (2017)
Of 571 respondents, 68.7% reported hearing an inner voice while
reading the questionnaire, while 31.4% reported understanding the
words without hearing an inner voice. Four hundred and sixty
(80.7%) of 570 respondents reported that they sometimes or
always heard an inner voice while reading without moving the
lips, and the rest (19.3%) reported that they always understood
words being read without hearing an inner voice. Although all
460 respondents who reported having IRVs had the option to
complete the remainder of the questionnaire, 35 did not do so,
and others skipped one or more questions. Consequently, sample
size for the remaining questions, which addressed IRV
phenomenology, varied from 425 to 411 respondents, all of
whom reported having IRVs.
Signicantly more females reported sometimes or always
having IRVs than did males (v
(df =1, N =566) =8.72, p=
0.003). The likelihood of having IRVs was different in different
age groups (v
(df =3, N=566) =32.48, p<= 0.001), with
progressively fewer individuals reporting IRVs as age increased.
Table 1 shows data relating to IRV frequency and Table 2
shows data relating to IRV location, number, and identity.
Table 3 shows data on auditory qualities of IRVs. A total of
422 participants responded to an additional item about emotional
tone of IRVs; of these, 97 respondents (23.9%) reported that
IRVs always had the same emotional tone no matter what was
read, while 294 (69.7%) reported that emotional tone varied, and
31 (7.4%) were unable to tell what the emotional tone was like.
Analysis of respondentsresponses to Items 1921 is beyond
the scope of this paper and will be reported elsewhere. Table 4
shows data relating to IRV controllability.
Out of a total of 411 who responded to the question about the
impact of IRVs on reading experience, most (311; 75.7%) agreed
that having an IRV enhanced reading experience (e.g. made it
more vivid, engaging, interesting or fun), while 54 (13.1%)
disagreed and 46 (11.2%) were unsure. Out of a total of 413 who
responded, a minority (114; 27.6%) agreed that having an IRV
Table 1. Frequency of IRVs
N Valid %
How often IRV is heard 427
Every time something is read 146 34.2
Often 192 45.0
Sometimes 86 20.1
Only a few times 2 0.5
1 0.23
Reading occasions when IRV is heard
Print books 395 92.9
Print periodicals (newspapers, journals,
274 64.5
Internet content such as blogs 298 70.1
Emails or text messages 282 66.4
Social network posts 271 63.8
Letters or notes (printed or handwritten) 315 74.1
Labels (food containers, medicine bottles, other
commercial products)
165 38.8
Signs (walls or shop windows) 162 38.1
this response appears to have been selected in error, since
responses to other items indicate that this respondent does have IRVs.
respondents could select all options that applied.
Table 2. IRV location, number and identity
N Valid %
IRV location 428
Inside head 384 89.7
With ears 3 0.7
Both with ears and inside head 23 5.4
Neither with ears nor inside head 4 0.9
Unsure 14 3.3
Number of IRVs heard over reading lifetime 424
One 127 30.0
Two 3 0.7
More than two 170 40.1
Unsure 124 29.3
Whose voice is heard
Own 300 70.2
Story character 182 42.6
Sender of a message 163 38.1
Family member 56 13.1
Celebrity or famous person 50 11.7
Friend 48 11.2
Teacher or acquaintance 27 6.3
Recognizable, unidentied voice 73 17.1
Unrecognized voice 149 34.9
respondents could select all options that applied.
Table 3. Auditory qualities of IRVs
(N =426)
(Valid %)
(N =423)
(Valid %)
(N =423)
(Valid %)
(N =420)
(Valid %)
Always the
same as
146 (34.3) 166 (39.2) 144 (34.0) 122 (29.1)
Always different
than readers
3 (0.7) 6 (1.4) 25 (5.9) 63 (12.0)
depending on
voice or on
what is read
216 (50.7) 212 (50.1) 206 (48.7) 170 (40.5)
Not able to tell
what it is like
61 (14.3) 39 (9.2) 48 (11.4) 65 (15.5)
the same as readers normal speaking voice.
different loudness
than readers normal speaking voice.
Table 4. Controllability of IRVs
N Valid %
Can change any quality of IRV at will 416
Yes 300 72.1
No 116 27.9
IRV quality that can be changed at will
To hear or not hear IRV 79 19.0
Whose voice is heard 148 35.6
Emotional tone 236 56.7
Rate of reading 211 50.7
Pitch 205 49.3
Accent 207 49.8
Loudness 152 36.5
respondents could select all options that applied.
© 2017 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
Characteristics of inner reading voices 3Scand J Psychol (2017)
made reading harder (e.g. made it slower, was distracting), while
259 (62.7%) disagreed and 40 (9.7%) were unsure.
A majority of the 413 participants with IRVs who responded to
the nal question (213; 51.6%) were of the opinion that most
people had IRVs, while only 18 (3.9%) of these respondents were
of the opinion that most people did not have IRVs. One hundred
and eighty four (44.6%) were unsure.
A large majority of respondents in the sample reported
subjectively audible IRVs (i.e., an experience of hearing a voice
while reading). At least one study has shown that a similarly high
proportion of people have subjectively audible inner speech when
not reading, with 91.7% of study participants from the general
population indicating that they experienced thoughts with sound
(Cuevas-Yust, 2014). The present study indicated that IRVs are a
routine experience for many, with 34.2% of respondents with
IRVs hearing an IRV every time something was read, and 45%
reporting an IRV often. It is worthwhile to consider what is meant
by hearingor audiblein this context. The distinction, if any,
between the experiences of auditory imagery and auditory
perception is certainly important, but no studies have been able to
clearly make this distinction. The only ways that researchers have
examined whether auditory imagery is phenomenologically
similar to auditory perception is by studying auditory qualities
such as loudness, pitch, tone, depth, and gender, or by examining
brain areas activated during auditory imagery and perception (for
a review of research, see Hubbard, 2013).
Few studies of inner speech have examined specic auditory
qualities, but it has been demonstrated that inner speech when
not reading can have loudness (Cuevas-Yust, 2014; Hurlburt
et al., 2013) and emotional tone (Hurlburt et al., 2013). Accents
(Filik & Barber, 2011) as well as other auditory qualities
(Vilhauer, 2016) have previously been demonstrated in IRVs.
In the present study, an overwhelming majority of survey
respondents reported IRVs with specic auditory qualities such
as loudness, accent, gender, pitch, and/or emotional tone.
Auditory characteristics often varied according to specic IRV
heard or what was read, although a substantial proportion of
respondents reported that these characteristics always resembled
those of their own speaking voices. If the number of specic
auditory qualities present were considered an indicator of
vividness, vividness of IRVs would appear to occur on a
continuum, with accent being the quality that most could
characterize. However, it must be noted that participants were
not specically asked to rate the vividness of their IRVs, or
asked whether their IRVs were experienced as vividly as a
sound heard out loud.
Studies of inner speech when not reading have not examined
whether such inner speech is experienced as being heard with the
ears or inside the head. With respect to IRVs, the present study
indicated that, although a minority reported hearing IRVs with
their ears, in other ways, or were unsure of voice location, a large
majority reported hearing them inside the head.
Little is yet known about the controllability of inner speech
while reading, as only one other study (Vilhauer, 2016) has even
touched on this aspect of IRVs. In the present study, although
72.1% of respondents with IRVs could change some quality of
their IRVs, IRVs appeared to be automatic in most, with only
19% being able to choose whether or not to hear an IRV when
text was read. In other words, the onset of IRVs during an
instance of reading is not under voluntary control for many
people. Only 35.6% could control whose voice was heard, and
36.5% the loudness of their IRVs. Other qualities, such as reading
rate, pitch, accent, and emotional tone, could not be controlled by
many respondents. The number of qualities people could control
varied, suggesting that controllability may occur on a continuum.
Although the current study did not examine whether the offset, or
discontinuation, of IRVs is always under voluntary control, a
previous study (Vilhauer, 2015) suggested that, at least in rare
cases, offset may not be voluntarily controllable, with IRVs
reportedly continuing after the cessation of reading, thus
apparently being continuous with subjectively audible thoughts.
We do not know whether IRVs are similar to other types of inner
speech in controllability, as no studies have examined the
controllability of inner speech when not reading. Although
intrusive thoughts (Moritz & Larøi, 2008) could conceivably be
considered instances of uncontrollable inner speech, they have not
previously been considered in this light.
Only one previous study has examined the identity of IRVs
(Vilhauer, 2016). Several studies have shown that other peoples
voices occur in other types of inner speech as well (Alderson-Day
& Fernyhough, 2015; Hurlburt et al., 2013; McCarthy-Jones &
Fernyhough, 2011), but the identity of those voices has not been
explored. In the present study, more than two-thirds of
respondents had IRVs in their own voices, sometimes in addition
to IRVs in othersvoices. The most frequently reported non-self,
recognizable identities were those of story characters and people
who sent the respondents messages (emails, texts or notes), but
voices of family members, friends, acquaintances, and famous
people were also reported. In addition, recognizable but
unidentied voices, and unrecognized voices were reported.
This study has some limitations. Because the questionnaire is a
novel one, no information is yet available on its psychometric
properties; its test-retest reliability has not yet been established,
and its relationship to other measures of inner speech, such as the
VISQ, has also not yet been assessed. A study is underway to
address these limitations. Although wide distribution of the
questionnaire in the present study was expected to increase sample
diversity, individuals who enjoy reading may be over-represented
in the sample, and only individuals with access to the Internet, and
who are comfortable using computers, could have completed the
questionnaire. Nevertheless, the sample used in this study may be
as or more heterogeneous than samples used in other published
studies of inner speech phenomenology, which have typically
included only college students as participants (e.g. Alderson-Day
& Fernyhough, 2015; McCarthy-Jones & Fernyhough, 2011).
It must be noted that it is not possible to determine from this
study whether IRVs are instances of inner speaking or inner
hearing. As Hurlburt et al. (2013) have noted, these two forms of
inner experience are not easily distinguished without training.
IRVs can be conceptualized not only as articulatory inner speech,
but also as vivid auditory imagery. The present study would then
suggest that individuals differ in spontaneous imagery, with some,
but not others, routinely and involuntarily hearing voices while
© 2017 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd
4R. P. Vilhauer Scand J Psychol (2017)
reading. The results also suggest that in individuals with IRVs,
imagery may occur on a continuum with respect to both vividness
and volition.
Studies of differences in imagery vividness between individuals
with and without hallucinations, using procedures in which
participants were directed to create imagery, have produced
inconsistent results (Brett & Starker, 1977; Mintz & Alpert, 1972;
Starker & Jolin, 1982). No studies have examined whether
hallucinators (whether or not they have a clinical diagnosis) are
more likely than non-hallucinators to have spontaneous imagery,
such as vivid inner reading voices. This idea may merit
investigation, as such a nding may indicate that vivid
spontaneous imagery could, along with other factors (Seal,
Aleman & McGuire, 2004), contribute to propensity to AVHs.
Previous research provides some support for this idea. For
example, Franck, Rouby, Daprati, Dal
ery, Marie-Cardine &
Georgieff (2000) reported that study participants diagnosed with
schizophrenia, and particularly those with ongoing hallucinations,
were more likely than normal controls to confuse words they had
read silently with words they had spoken aloud. Others have
noted that voice-hearers, regardless of diagnostic status, tend to
report thoughts and intrusions that are more audible and vivid
than non-voice-hearers (Cuevas-Yust, 2014; Moritz & Larøi,
IRVs appear to be routine, everyday experiences that are tied to
the activity of reading, while AVHs are complex, heterogeneous
phenomena that are, at least in the clinical population, often
distressing. Most individuals who experience IRVs probably do
not nd them distressing, as more than three-quarters of
respondents with IRVs in the present study indicated that IRVs
enhance enjoyment of reading. We do not yet understand how, or
whether, normal inner speech experiences may be related to
AVHs. Are there ways in which the two kinds of experiences are
similar? In what specic ways are they different? Are there
particular circumstances in which normal experiences of inner
speech could take on a different quality, or become distressing?
Further study of IRVs may provide insight into these questions.
The author would like to thank Charles Fernyhough for his helpful
comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.
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6R. P. Vilhauer Scand J Psychol (2017)
... See also Musselman (2000). 5 For further discussion on the presence and absence of an inner voice in reading see among others: Vilhauer (2016Vilhauer ( , 2017. 6 For some, this may recall Genette's oft-cited axiom: ". . ...
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In keeping with the call of this Special Issue, this article is but one voice in the midst of a much broader conversation, attending to whether the differences between narrative and performance criticism are a matter of degree or kind. Narrative and biblical performance criticisms are natural bedfellows. The two appear genealogically related as they share similar founders, attend to similar features, and to a degree share similar interests with regard to interpretation. In fact, their interests appear to be so closely aligned at several points that attempts to distinguish between these two approaches run the risk of simply “splitting hairs”. Yet, our recognition of these distinctions is essential for highlighting the unique contribution of each approach. In what follows, I suggest that the differences between performance and narrative criticisms are rather (at least theoretically) a “shifting of gears”, a progression toward a more complex understanding of how biblical texts work in various contexts and how we as scholars may approach them as objects of study. While the object of study in narrative criticism is relatively well established (again, at least theoretically), this is not necessarily the case for performance criticism. In short, by way of contrast, I will suggest that for performance criticism, its object is similar to yet distinct from the object of study of narrative criticism. Such a claim is by no means groundbreaking, especially among the performance critics, nor should it necessarily be viewed as controversial. Rather, in exploring the contours of each approach, this contribution aims to provide additional theoretical credence to certain areas within this conversation. In doing so, this inadvertently has implications not only for our thinking in this particular volume, but also perhaps more broadly for biblical studies.
... Hearing other people's voices in the normal process of everyday thinking, or inner speech, is common (McCarthy Jones & Fernyhough, 2011). Although the large majority of people experience inner speech as subjectively audible, a minority do not (Cuevas-Yust, 2014;Vilhauer, 2017). Tryon is part of this minority. ...
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Although sensory and quasi-sensory experiences of the deceased (SED) have been the subject of much debate, research on the phenomenology of auditory verbal experiences in the bereaved has been neglected. This case study describes the phenomenology of a regularly occurring voice hearing experience and its meaning for a single bereaved individual. The voice of the deceased can be heard as though in external space, and the experience can feel real, even when the death is fully acknowledged. A bereaved individual can welcome and benefit from the experience even when it is not recognized as a normal part of grieving in the individual’s cultural context, when no afterlife belief is present, and when the experience remains unexplained. The case study demonstrates that hearing the voice of the deceased can be a regular occurrence without causing distress or dysfunction and lends support to the idea that SED are a common concomitant of normal bereavement.
... Pur non coinvolgendo direttamente i vincoli morfologici della voce, l'inner speech ha delle caratteristiche fenomenologiche sovrapponibili all'overt speech: può variare nel picco, nella frequenza, nel tipo di voce, nella vividezza come l'overt speech (Wilkinson, Alderson-Day 2016;Vilhaurer 2017). La qualità dell'inner voice può cambiare in base al contesto esterno, al compito in cui è coinvolto il soggetto, le emozioni, ma anche in base al tipo di reporting (diretto o indiretto) (Yao, Scheepers 2015). ...
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Narrative has been the subject of theoretical reflection and empirical investigation since Aristotle’s Poetics. However, with the turn of the millennium, we are witnessing a real narrative turn in the humanities and social sciences. This volume aims to provide an overview of recent developments in the theoretical analysis of narrative, offering the reader a series of contributions that are organized along the following three theoretical-disciplinary axes: theories of narrative at the intersection of cognitive, evolutionary, and computational approaches; narrative theory and cognitive neuroscience; and narrative and storytelling as socio-communicative phenomena.
... Zhou and Christianson (2016) reported that text comprehension may even improve if we imagine someone else reading the text aloud. There is evidence for stable individual differences in the degree to which people experience inner speech (Roebuck & Lupyan, 2020;Vilhauer, 2017). For some individuals, it feels a powerful phenomenon, whereas others are surprised to be informed about an alleged inner voice in silent reading. ...
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This chapter considers key questions and issues concerning the role of phonology in silent reading. It reviews classic findings that point to phonological effects in reading. Stronger evidence for the involvement of assembled phonology in visual word recognition in English comes from experiments using masked priming. There are two ways in which written words can activate phonology. First, a word in its entirety can be recognized as a familiar visual stimulus associated with a particular pronunciation. The second way is to translate parts of words into sounds. A neuroscientific finding is that the reading system is lateralized to hemisphere controlling speech production. It is accepted that orthographic and phonological information jointly contribute to visual word recognition and that this is achieved through rapid interactions between different forms of coding information in the brain. The chapter discusses three computational models: the Dual Route Cascaded model, the Connectionist Dual Process+ model, and the Triangle model.
... Zhou and Christianson (2016) reported that text comprehension may even improve if we imagine someone else reading the text aloud. There is evidence for stable individual differences in the degree to which people experience inner speech (Roebuck & Lupyan, 2020;Vilhauer, 2017). For some individuals, it feels a powerful phenomenon, whereas others are surprised to be informed about an alleged inner voice in silent reading. ...
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In this chapter I summarize the evidence that phonology is involved in visual word recognition and text reading. This is even the case in groups with suboptimal access to spoken language (such as people born deaf and students learning a second language in school). The phonological code helps to make reading fluent, as suggested by the finding that reading problems (dyslexia) are often associated with deficits in phonology. This should come as no surprise, given that silent reading is a recent skill, which mankind added to its spoken communication developed over 2 million years.
... Zhou and Christianson (2016) reported that text comprehension may even improve if we imagine someone else reading the text aloud. There is evidence for stable individual differences in the degree to which people experience inner speech (Roebuck & Lupyan, 2020;Vilhauer, 2017). For some individuals, it feels a powerful phenomenon, whereas others are surprised to be informed about an alleged inner voice in silent reading. ...
Full-text available
In this chapter I summarize the evidence that phonology is involved in visual word recognition and text reading. This is even the case in groups with suboptimal access to spoken language (such as people born deaf and students learning a second language in school). The phonological code helps to make reading fluent, as suggested by the finding that reading problems (dyslexia) are often associated with deficits in phonology. This should come as no surprise, given that silent reading is a recent skill, which mankind added to its spoken communication developed over 2 million years.
... Thereby phonological awareness is crucial for expressing prosody as well as coordinating temporal predictions for speech rhythm (Melby-Lervåg et al., 2012). When reading silently, a reader's inner voice can also distinguish inertly between various qualities, mirroring external intonation and modulation, varying i.a., by volume/stress, pitch and tempo (Vilhauer, 2017). Hence, subvocalization can affect silent reading (Kriukova & Mani, 2016;Stolterfoht et al., 2007), which is reflected in the implicit prosody hypothesis. ...
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The present study investigates effects of conventionally metered and rhymed poetry on eye-movements in silent reading. Readers saw MRRL poems (i.e., metrically regu-lar, rhymed language) in two layouts. In poem layout, verse endings coincided with line breaks. In prose layout verse endings could be mid-line. We also added metrical and rhyme anomalies. We hypothesized that silently reading MRRL results in build-ing up auditive expectations that are based on a rhythmic “audible gestalt” and pro-pose that rhythmicity is generated through subvocalization. Our results revealed that readers were sensitive to rhythmic-gestalt-anomalies but showed differential effects in poem and prose layouts. Metrical anomalies in particular resulted in robust reading disruptions across a variety of eye-movement measures in the poem layout and caused re-reading of the local context. Rhyme anomalies elicited stronger effects in prose layout and resulted in systematic re-reading of pre-rhymes. The presence or absence of rhythmic-gestalt-anomalies, as well as the layout manipulation, also af-fected reading in general. Effects of syllable number indicated a high degree of subvo-calization. The overall pattern of results suggests that eye-movements reflect, and are closely aligned with, the rhythmic subvocalization of MRRL. This study introduces a two-stage approach to the analysis of long MRRL stimuli and contributes to the discussion of how the processing of rhythm in music and speech may overlap.
... Due to the conflicting evidence, the question whether male and female voice hearers differ in terms of the gender of their dominant voices cannot be conclusively answered and is in need of further replication. Nevertheless, the consideration of our findings in conjunction with etiological models of voice hearing suggesting auditory hallucinations (AH) to be caused by dysfunctional self-monitoring of inner speech (Badcock 2016) poses some interesting questions for respective neurobiological models and is in line with recent findings that a large majority of inner speech (i.e., inner reading voices) resembles the characteristics of the reader's own speaking voice (Vilhauer 2017). In this context, a tendency towards perceiving verbal hallucinations as congruent with one's own gender seems plausible and could account for the findings of a preponderance of male dominant voices in males; however, at the same time, it raises some questions concerning the lack of a respective preponderance of female dominant voices in females. ...
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Voice hearing has been conceptualized as an interrelational framework, where the interaction between voice and voice hearer is reciprocal and resembles “real-life interpersonal interactions.” Although gender influences social functioning in “real-life situations,” little is known about respective effects of gender in the voice hearing experience. One hundred seventeen participants with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder took part in a semi-structured interview about the phenomenology of their voices and completed standardized self-rating questionnaires on their beliefs about their most dominant male and female voices and the power differentials in their respective voice-voice hearer interactions. Additionally, the voice hearers’ individual masculine/feminine traits were recorded. Men heard significantly more male than female dominant voices, while the gender ratio of dominant voices was balanced in women. Although basic phenomenological characteristics of voices were similar in both genders, women showed greater amounts of distress caused by the voices and reported a persistence of voices for longer time periods. Command hallucinations that encouraged participants to harm others were predominantly male. Regarding voice appraisals, high levels of traits associated with masculinity (=instrumentality/agency) correlated with favorable voice appraisals and balanced power perceptions between voice and voice hearer. These positive effects seem to be more pronounced in women. The gender of both voice and voice hearer shapes the voice hearing experience in manifold ways. Due to possible favorable effects on clinical outcomes, therapeutic concepts that strengthen instrumental/agentic traits could be a feasible target for psychotherapeutic interventions in voice hearing, especially in women.
Interaction between text and reader is a prominent concern in stylistics. This paper focusses on interactions among stylistic processes and subconscious microcognitive processes that generate changes to narrative and interpretation during reading. Drawing on process philosophy and recent neuroscientific research, I articulate this dynamism through analysis of a brief narrative moment from each of The.PowerBook by Jeanette Winterson and Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. I argue that high densities of stylistic and microcognitive perturbations lead to frequent narrative and interpretive changes in the two moments. The analyses reinforce portrayals of reading as intensely complex, dynamic and changeable. Complexity, dynamism and mutability also characterise the stylistic changes in the two narrative moments. This paper advocates greater attention to the role of volatile stylistic and cognitive microdynamics in shaping the reading of prose fiction.
In this self-investigation, a first-year writing teacher explored her rhetoric before and after the shift to remote learning, which occurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, during the Spring 2020 semester. Based on scholarship in situational rhetoric and feminist ethic of care, the author investigated her written communications to the second language writers in her classes. Specifically, she scrutinized the course policies and procedures outlined in the course syllabus and in her written announcements posted in the course's learning management system (LMS). Grounding her discussion in extant literature, the author explored the implications of her rhetorical evolution on her future teaching and speculated on how the evolution would guide her instructional responses to future educational crises.
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Inner speech is often reported to be a common and central part of inner experience, but its true prevalence is unclear. Many questionnaire-based measures appear to lack convergent validity and it has been claimed that they overestimate inner speech in comparison to experience sampling methods (which involve collecting data at random timepoints). The present study compared self-reporting of inner speech collected via a general questionnaire and experience sampling, using data from a custom-made smartphone app (Inner Life). Fifty-one university students completed a generalized self-report measure of inner speech (the Varieties of Inner Speech Questionnaire, or VISQ) and responded to at least 7 random alerts to report on incidences of inner speech over a 2-week period. Correlations and pairwise comparisons were used to compare generalized endorsements and randomly-sampled scores for each VISQ subscale. Significant correlations were observed between general and randomly sampled measures for only 2 of the 4 VISQ subscales, and endorsements of inner speech with evaluative or motivational characteristics did not correlate at all across different measures. Endorsement of inner speech items was significantly lower for random sampling compared to generalized self-report, for all VISQ subscales. Exploratory analysis indicated that specific inner speech characteristics were also related to anxiety and future-oriented thinking.
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Inner speech is theorized to be the basis for auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs), but few empirical studies have examined the phenomenology of inner speech, particularly while reading. One hundred and sixty posts from a popular question and answer community website were analyzed using a qualitative content analysis approach, to examine the phenomenology of inner reading voices (IRVs). Results indicated that many individuals report routinely experiencing IRVs, which often have the auditory qualities of overt speech, such as recognizable identity, gender, pitch, loudness and emotional tone. IRVs were sometimes identified as the readers’ own voices, and sometimes as the voices of other people. Some individuals reported that IRVs were continuous with audible thoughts. Both controllable and uncontrollable IRVs were reported. IRVs may provide evidence for individual variation in imagery vividness and support for inner speech accounts of AVHs. IRVs may be a useful model for studying AVHs in the non-clinical population and need further investigation.
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Auditory verbal hallucinations (AVH) are complex experiences that occur in the context of various clinical disorders. AVH also occur in individuals from the general population who have no identifiable psychiatric or neurological diagnoses. This article reviews research on AVH in nonclinical individuals and provides a cross-disciplinary view of the clinical relevance of these experiences in defining the risk of mental illness and need for care. Prevalence rates of AVH vary according to measurement tool and indicate a continuum of experience in the general population. Cross-sectional comparisons of individuals with AVH with and without need for care reveal similarities in phenomenology and some underlying mechanisms but also highlight key differences in emotional valence of AVH, appraisals, and behavioral response. Longitudinal studies suggest that AVH are an antecedent of clinical disorders when combined with negative emotional states, specific cognitive difficulties and poor coping, plus family history of psychosis, and environmental exposures such as childhood adversity. However, their predictive value for specific psychiatric disorders is not entirely clear. The theoretical and clinical implications of the reviewed findings are discussed, together with directions for future research.
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Empirical findings from studies on imagery of auditory features (pitch, timbre, loudness, duration, tempo, rhythm) and imagery of auditory objects (musical contour and melody, musical key and harmony, notational audiation, speech and text, environmental stimuli) are reviewed. Potential individual differences in auditory imagery (involving vividness, auditory hallucination, development, musical ability, training) are considered. It is concluded that auditory imagery (a) preserves many of the structural and temporal properties of auditory information present in auditory (or multisensory or crossmodal) stimuli, (b) can impact subsequent responding by influencing perception or by influencing expectancies regarding subsequent stimuli, (c) involves mechanisms similar to many of those used in auditory perception, and (d) is subserved by many of the same cortical structures as is auditory perception.
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As you might experience it while reading this sentence, silent reading often involves an imagery speech component: we can hear our own "inner voice" pronouncing words mentally. Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have associated that component with increased metabolic activity in the auditory cortex, including voice-selective areas. It remains to be determined, however, whether this activation arises automatically from early bottom-up visual inputs or whether it depends on late top-down control processes modulated by task demands. To answer this question, we collaborated with four epileptic human patients recorded with intracranial electrodes in the auditory cortex for therapeutic purposes, and measured high-frequency (50-150 Hz) "gamma" activity as a proxy of population level spiking activity. Temporal voice-selective areas (TVAs) were identified with an auditory localizer task and monitored as participants viewed words flashed on screen. We compared neural responses depending on whether words were attended or ignored and found a significant increase of neural activity in response to words, strongly enhanced by attention. In one of the patients, we could record that response at 800 ms in TVAs, but also at 700 ms in the primary auditory cortex and at 300 ms in the ventral occipital temporal cortex. Furthermore, single-trial analysis revealed a considerable jitter between activation peaks in visual and auditory cortices. Altogether, our results demonstrate that the multimodal mental experience of reading is in fact a heterogeneous complex of asynchronous neural responses, and that auditory and visual modalities often process distinct temporal frames of our environment at the same time.
Cognitive theories about auditory hallucinations maintain that inner speech is erroneously interpreted as coming from an external source. Few first-hand accounts of patients' experiences have been made, so there is limited knowledge of the process through which patients distinguish their auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) from ordinary thoughts. 89 individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, some experiencing acute hallucinatory symptomatology (Sz-AVHs) and some who were not (Sz-noAVHs), were assessed along with 48 individuals from the general population using the Auditory Hallucinations Assessment Questionnaire (AHAQ; Cuevas-Yust, Rodríguez Martín, Ductor Recuerda, Salas Azcona, & León Gómez, 2006). The Schz-AVHs group reported hearing ordinary thoughts at the same volume as their auditory hallucinations (p = .53) and spoken words (p = .89). In contrast, the Sz-noAVHs and general population samples reported hearing spoken words louder than their own thoughts (p = .002; p = .04). In comparison to these last two groups, the Sz-AVHs group described the sound of their thoughts as louder. These findings are consistent with the cognitive hypothesis of auditory verbal hallucinations. Confusion identifying the source of auditory hallucinations could be due, in part, to "hearing" one's thoughts at the same volume as auditory hallucinations and spoken words.
Inner speaking is a common and widely discussed phenomenon of inner experience. Based on our studies of inner experience using Descriptive Experience Sampling (a qualitative method designed to produce high fidelity descriptions of randomly selected pristine inner experience), we advance an initial phenomenology of inner speaking. Inner speaking does occur in many, though certainly not all, moments of pristine inner experience. Most commonly it is experienced by the person as speaking in his or her own naturally inflected voice but with no sound being produced. In addition to prototypical instances of inner speaking, there are wide-ranging variations that fit the broad category of inner speaking and large individual differences in the frequency with which individuals experience inner speaking. Our observations are discrepant from what many have said about inner speaking, which we attribute to the characteristics of the methods different researchers have used to examine inner speaking.