If you’ve ever had an imaginary argument in your head, you may have “heard” two voices at once. Your own inner voice and that of the other in the dispute. You may even “hear” the other person’s accent or tone of voice.
So what happens in the Brain When is this inner monologue on? How come you can “hear” your thoughts?
As it turns out, when thinking of words, the brain goes through similar processes as when speaking out loud.
Inner monologues are thought to be a simulation of open speech, said Hélène Loevenbruck, a senior neurolinguistics researcher and leader of the language team at the Laboratory of Psychology and Neurocognition at CNRS, France’s national research institute. As children we are virtual sponges, absorbing new information from every angle. Children playing alone often speak dialogue out loud, for example between a toy truck and a stuffed animal. At about 5 to 7 years old (opens in new tab)this verbalization moves inward, said Loevenbruck.
Related: Does everyone have an inner monologue?
previous studies (opens in new tab) have shown that the brain shows a similar activity with internal language as with verbal language. When study participants are asked to intentionally “talk” in their heads while lying in a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner, the scientists can see how parts of the brain that process auditory information are activated, as if the participant were actually speaking the words would hear.
“Cerebral regions activated during internal speech are very similar to those activated during open speech during real speech,” Loevenbruck told Live Science. These regions include the frontal lobe and parietal lobe of the left hemisphere, which help process external stimulation.
But when you think of something like a fictional argument with another person, the brain takes it a step further. During this inner struggle, you play two roles: yourself and the person you are arguing with. When you play yourself, the auditory centers on the left side of your brain are activated, Loevenbruck said. But when you internally switch roles to play the person you’re arguing with, “there’s kind of a shift in brain region activation to the right hemisphere,” in the appropriate areas like the parietal lobe and the frontal lobe, she continued. Seeing the situation from a different perspective, even if it’s a perspective you make up in your head, shifts the brain regions involved.
Researchers have also observed this phenomenon when participants were asked to imagine movements, Leovenbruck continued. Dancers, for example, use a different part of their brain to imagine themselves dancing compared to someone else, a study published in the August 2005 issue of the journal cerebral cortex (opens in new tab) found.
It’s one thing to see how these brain regions activate when a person is asked to think something, but what happens in our brains when we let our minds wander is much less known, Leovenbruck said. Not all inner monologues are intentional. Sometimes words or phrases just come to mind, unprovoked.
This phenomenon may have something to do with the brain’s default mode network (DMN), said Robert Chavez, a neuroscientist at the University of Oregon. The DMN is a network of areas in the brain that are active when not busy with a specific task. The DMN is thought to be involved in aspects of inner thinking such as: B. recalling memories, imagining the future, or interoception – a feeling or “feeling” of what is happening in your body, such as. B. Hunger or thirst.
“The default mode network seems to be more active when your mind wanders,” Chavez told Live Science. Because the standard mode network involves planning for the future using memories, recent experiences, and mental associations, it is believed that this combination of activities arises (opens in new tab) to an inner monologue as you focus inward.
Much more research is needed to understand how inner thoughts spontaneously arise, Leovenbruck said. When taken to extremes, inner thoughts can become dysfunctional, such as: B. rumination after an unpleasant or traumatic event or in mental disorders such as schizophrenia, in which people hear auditory hallucinations.
Originally published on Live Science.
https://www.livescience.com/how-hear-inner-thoughts What happens in our brains when we ‘hear’ our own thoughts?