Did you know that when you read something, you also ‘hear’ it inside your head?
Don’t worry, this doesn’t mean we’re all going stir crazy. Science types have simply concluded that we use that little voice in our head to process what we read, and how it ‘sounds’ internally can have a massive impact on whether or not it holds our attention.
Feeling slightly wired after my morning coffee, I decided to do some research into this. I found a few compelling sources that claim our ‘inner voices’ are pivotal in how we absorb written information, most notably this article from New Scientist, which went as far as discussing methods of ‘eavesdropping’ on someone’s inner voice to advance research in helping those who can’t to communicate.
“If you’re reading text in a newspaper or a book, you hear a voice in your own head,” says Brian Pasley at the University of California, Berkeley. “We’re trying to decode the brain activity related to that voice to create a medical prosthesis that can allow someone who is paralysed or locked in to speak.”
I then convinced myself. If we didn’t ‘hear’ words as we read them, things like cadence, lyrical flow and rhythm simply wouldn’t matter. We’d just pick up raw information from words on a page and construct some form of meaningful output in our minds. Of course, it is still up to us to extract and construct information, but grammar, tone of voice and how we balance words within sentences really helps us out; we do hear words and sentences when we read them, and how they sound in our heads directly impacts how we engage with them, and how well they engage us.