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Interestingly, not all cognitive functions associated with verbal processing were impacted by the levels of inner speech. Credit: Neuroscience News

Inside the Quiet Mind: The Absence of Inner Speech

Summary: Recent research introduces ‘anendophasia’ as a term for the absence of inner speech, revealing that not everyone experiences internal dialogue. The study compared adults with low and high levels of inner speech, finding significant differences in their cognitive abilities.

Those with minimal inner speech struggled more with verbal working memory and rhyme judgments, although their task-switching abilities were unaffected. This study highlights the significant role inner speech plays in certain cognitive functions.

Key Facts:

  1. Definition of Anendophasia: The term ‘anendophasia’ has been coined to describe a lack of inner speech, which varies significantly among adults, from abundant to absent.
  2. Impact on Cognitive Tasks: Individuals with minimal inner speech exhibit lower performance on tasks involving verbal working memory and rhyme judgments, highlighting the functional role of inner speech in these areas.
  3. Selective Cognitive Influence: The absence of inner speech does not uniformly affect all cognitive processes; for instance, task-switching abilities remain unaffected, indicating a complex relationship between inner speech and cognitive functions.

Source: Neuroscience News

Inner speech, or the internal monologue that narrates, debates, and processes information in language form, is often assumed to be a constant companion in our minds.

However, new research challenges this notion, introducing the term “anendophasia” to describe individuals who rarely, if ever, experience inner speech.

The study focused on exploring the behavioral implications of anendophasia across four separate experiments.

The participants were divided into two groups based on their self-reported levels of inner speech. Those in the low inner speech group (N = 46) demonstrated notably poorer performance in verbal working memory tasks compared to their counterparts in the high inner speech group (N = 47).

This finding suggests that the running dialogue we engage in with ourselves may play a crucial role in our ability to hold and manipulate information in our minds.

Further, the study assessed the participants’ ability to perform rhyme judgments—a task that typically benefits from verbal processing.

Here again, individuals with minimal inner speech faced more challenges, indicating that inner speech may facilitate the sort of linguistic manipulation required for such tasks.

This aligns with the theory that inner speech supports a range of verbal activities, from reading and comprehension to linguistic creativity.

Interestingly, not all cognitive functions associated with verbal processing were impacted by the levels of inner speech.

Task-switching performance, which involves shifting attention between tasks and is thought to benefit from endogenous verbal cueing, did not differ significantly between the two groups.

Additionally, the study found no significant categorical effects on perceptual judgments related to inner speech, suggesting that the influence of internal dialogue may be more nuanced, affecting some areas of cognitive function while sparing others.

This study not only broadens our understanding of the variability in human cognitive experiences but also opens new avenues for examining how the presence or absence of inner speech might influence various aspects of psychological functioning and behavior.

About this anendophasia and neuroscience research news

Author: Neuroscience News Communications
Source: Neuroscience News
Contact: Neuroscience News Communications – Neuroscience News
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: Closed access.
Not Everybody Has an Inner Voice: Behavioral Consequences of Anendophasia” by Johanne S. K. Nedergaard et al. Psychological Science


Not Everybody Has an Inner Voice: Behavioral Consequences of Anendophasia

It is commonly assumed that inner speech—the experience of thought as occurring in a natural language—is a human universal.

Recent evidence, however, suggests that the experience of inner speech in adults varies from near constant to nonexistent.

We propose a name for a lack of the experience of inner speech—anendophasia—and report four studies examining some of its behavioral consequences.

We found that adults who reported low levels of inner speech (N = 46) had lower performance on a verbal working memory task and more difficulty performing rhyme judgments compared with adults who reported high levels of inner speech (N = 47).

Task-switching performance—previously linked to endogenous verbal cueing—and categorical effects on perceptual judgments were unrelated to differences in inner speech.

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