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Thinking through talking to yourself: Inner speech as a vehicle of conscious reasoning

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It can be argued that dual-system theorists should adopt an action-based view of System 2 (S2), on which S2 reasoning is an intentional activity. It can also be argued that they should adopt a dual-attitude theory, on which the two systems have distinct sets of propositional attitudes. However, Peter Carruthers has argued that on the action-based view there are no S2 attitudes. This paper replies to Carruthers, proposing a view of S2 attitudes as virtual ones, which are partially realized in S1 attitudes. This view is compatible with, and a natural extension of, the action-based view.
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Inner speech is one of the most common, but least investigated, mental activities humans perform. It is an internal copy of one's external voice and so is similar to a well-established component of motor control: corollary discharge. Corollary discharge is a prediction of the sound of one's voice generated by the motor system. This prediction is normally used to filter self-caused sounds from perception, which segregates them from externally caused sounds and prevents the sensory confusion that would otherwise result. The similarity between inner speech and corollary discharge motivates the theory, tested here, that corollary discharge provides the sensory content of inner speech. The results reported here show that inner speech attenuates the impact of external sounds. This attenuation was measured using a context effect (an influence of contextual speech sounds on the perception of subsequent speech sounds), which weakens in the presence of speech imagery that matches the context sound. Results from a control experiment demonstrated this weakening in external speech as well. Such sensory attenuation is a hallmark of corollary discharge.
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The phenomenon of auditory verbal hallucinations (AVHs) is one of the most intriguing features of the psychiatric literature. Two alternative models of the development of AVHs in both normal and psychotic populations are proposed. In the disruption to internalisation (DI) model, AVHs result from a disruption to the normal processes of internalisation of inner speech. In the re-expansion (RE) model, AVHs result when normal inner speech is re-expanded into inner dialogue under conditions of stress and cognitive challenge. Both models draw on Vygotsky's (The Collected Works Of L.S. Vygotsky, New York, Plenum Press, 1987) ideas about the development of inner speech. On this view, normal inner speech is considerably abbreviated relative to external speech, and also undergoes some important semantic transformations. In both the DI and RE models, AVHs arise when the subject's inner speech involves inappropriately expanded inner dialogue, leading the subject to experience the voices in the dialogue as alien. The two models may prove useful in explaining some of the social-developmental evidence surrounding the phenomenon, and also make a number of testable predictions which are suggested as priorities for future research.