How do we talk in our heads?

That inner speech in your brain might not be too dissimilar to the one coming out your mouth.

6th October 2017
How do we talk in our heads? © Getty

Asked by: Bob Ladendorf, US

Talking in our heads is referred to by psychologists as ‘inner speech’. It involves some similar processes to ‘overt’ speech – it recruits brain regions involved in language, such as the Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, and is even accompanied by minute muscle movements in the larynx. However, there are notable differences too, with brain areas useful in inhibiting overt speech playing a greater role in inner speech. The exact brain mechanisms involved may come down to why we are talking in our heads in the first place. For example, when we read a book, brain regions involved in attention may be more active than when we are mentally preparing for a race.

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