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PARIAH

That Little Voice (In your head.)

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Posted (edited)

Being that there is no, (and I mean no, none whatsoever) explanation for what the little voice in your head, the one you think to yourself with, the one that gets confused when you try to do algebra in your head, actually IS... What are YOUR thoughts on... well... your thoughts.

Edited by Fantomex

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your thoughts are just awesome.

Because usually, people can't read minds and its your own personal diary so to speak.

your own thuoghts, having that ability. is wonderful.

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....

Usually I don't think in voice... the words are in front of me, not in my head or out my voice. Mostly because it's aoying to think at all, and so no one can read your mind (just to stay on the safe side so my spirit don't reveal itself to anyone I don't wish to encounter...).

But it is helpfull to go through information in your own head without having to open your own mouth or a book. So technicaly it's nice, but personlay anoying.

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I see that voice as a distinct but connected entity that resides in my mind.

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That "little voice" is called the Homunculus.

Its a term that was clarified by Behaviorist psychologists claiming that the infinite regress this leads to makes this proposition useless from an operational viewpoint. In other words, there is no point to talking about "the little voice in your head" when studying psychology/consciousness as it stands to reason that this little voice has a little voice in his head, and that little voice a little voice in his head, and that little voice and so on and so on

You could follow this to infinity never reaching the ultimate Homunculus and simply pushing the discussion farther and farther back.

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I've always called it your Internal Monologue.....I've gotten in trouble lots of times for not using it :huh:

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I find if I vocalize the words Im thinking of to myself and hearing your own words, Is like a second opinion sort of like a verification. :wacko:

Not right nor wrong, just putting It out there.

The voice in our heads is the rough draft.

In that, sometimes the rough draft comes out before a proof read has been done. This can lead to confusion. lol

If you find yourself laughing at something at the expence of no one else knowing then your internal "Narrator" is constructive and a comic!!lol

Again, you know you dont need and shouldnt want another piece of cake or chocolate, Its then your voice jumps in and you have to force it to say, "No, I dont need that greasy bacon".

This voice is a realization to our subconsious

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Posted (edited)

The little voice in my head suggested that I post something :)

Being that there is no, (and I mean no, none whatsoever) explanation for what the little voice in your head,

I don't know about that. It seems to operate by running the processes by which I would speak, along with the processes by which I would understand speech, but then "cutting out the middle man" - don't actually speak (although some people, and maybe most people at one time or another, do actually speak aloud, even if only to make an exclamation like "Eureka!").

It is fairly simple to demonstrate that we engage these or similar mechanisms when we actually do speak. We do compose what we are going to say ahead of our saying it, we do listen to what we say, and we do compare our output stream as we hear it to what our intention is.

Also, I notice a "giveaway" feature. Just as in real speech with someone familiar I can sometimes "finish the sentence" for the other person, sometimes I know what the little voice is "going to say," and so the little voice does not finish that sentence, because I already know what the thought is.

the one you think to yourself with,

That varies a lot among people, and even within the same person at different times. We have had threads about people thinking in images, and many members report that they rely heavily on images rather than words on a regular basis.

Personally, I run in word mode most of the time, but can switch over to images. I have also (rarely) experienced thought in other sensory modalities including music and proprioception.

In all cases, the sense I get is that the source of thoughts may be representation-independent. Nevertheless, representation is handy for evaluating the content of thoughts and applying them to problems. I have a lot of wetware that evaluates language content. I am pretty sure that there are other people who have a lot devoted to evaluating image content.

Since 94% of my thoughts are pure crap, critical evaluation needs all the help it can get. Reducing the raw thought to some "concrete" representation seems to help.

the one that gets confused when you try to do algebra in your head,

Well, algebra, too is a "concrete" representation. When I think algebra, it looks like what I do is imagine the operations of changing an expression around. This may be accompanied by a running narration from the little voice, too. (If my little voice is pretend speech, my little algebraicist is pretend write it down and work it out.)

I believe the reason that this doesn't work too well, apart from the severe poverty of my algebraic gifts, is that there seems to be only one short term memory with a very limited storage capacity. For something new to enter crowded short term memory, something else has to leave. It doesn't have to be forgotten, but it does become inaccessible on a rapid recall basis, and it may well be lost.

If I literally forget where I am in the middle of an operation, then it ain't gonna work.

Thought experiment If somebody told you a telephone number which you wanted to retain (code 621, 654.2138 - an example, not a real phone number, but look at that thing, and imagine it is Keira Knightley's cell), first, you probably would immedately feel the need to write it down, because all by itself, it's hogging your short term memory quota. And in those seconds (which is all the time you've got unless you repeat it to yourself like a mantra) between receiving it and recording it, you won't be conscious of other thoughts, little voice or otherwise. There's no place to put anything else until you drop the number from storage.

So, I think that explains the confusion - the little voice competes with everything else for short term memory. Run a "pig" process like mental algebra, and the little voice loses a faculty needed for its proper functioning.

When Archimedes did spontaneously vocalize "Eureka!" he forgot to put his clothes on. Sounds like his short term memory was full up.

Edited by eight bits

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Posted (edited)

The little voice in my head suggested that I post something :)

I don't know about that. It seems to operate by running the processes by which I would speak, along with the processes by which I would understand speech, but then "cutting out the middle man" - don't actually speak (although some people, and maybe most people at one time or another, do actually speak aloud, even if only to make an exclamation like "Eureka!").

It is fairly simple to demonstrate that we engage these or similar mechanisms when we actually do speak. We do compose what we are going to say ahead of our saying it, we do listen to what we say, and we do compare our output stream as we hear it to what our intention is.

Also, I notice a "giveaway" feature. Just as in real speech with someone familiar I can sometimes "finish the sentence" for the other person, sometimes I know what the little voice is "going to say," and so the little voice does not finish that sentence, because I already know what the thought is.

That varies a lot among people, and even within the same person at different times. We have had threads about people thinking in images, and many members report that they rely heavily on images rather than words on a regular basis.

Personally, I run in word mode most of the time, but can switch over to images. I have also (rarely) experienced thought in other sensory modalities including music and proprioception.

In all cases, the sense I get is that the source of thoughts may be representation-independent. Nevertheless, representation is handy for evaluating the content of thoughts and applying them to problems. I have a lot of wetware that evaluates language content. I am pretty sure that there are other people who have a lot devoted to evaluating image content.

Since 94% of my thoughts are pure crap, critical evaluation needs all the help it can get. Reducing the raw thought to some "concrete" representation seems to help.

Well, algebra, too is a "concrete" representation. When I think algebra, it looks like what I do is imagine the operations of changing an expression around. This may be accompanied by a running narration from the little voice, too. (If my little voice is pretend speech, my little algebraicist is pretend write it down and work it out.)

I believe the reason that this doesn't work too well, apart from the severe poverty of my algebraic gifts, is that there seems to be only one short term memory with a very limited storage capacity. For something new to enter crowded short term memory, something else has to leave. It doesn't have to be forgotten, but it does become inaccessible on a rapid recall basis, and it may well be lost.

If I literally forget where I am in the middle of an operation, then it ain't gonna work.

Thought experiment If somebody told you a telephone number which you wanted to retain (code 621, 654.2138 - an example, not a real phone number, but look at that thing, and imagine it is Keira Knightley's cell), first, you probably would immedately feel the need to write it down, because all by itself, it's hogging your short term memory quota. And in those seconds (which is all the time you've got unless you repeat it to yourself like a mantra) between receiving it and recording it, you won't be conscious of other thoughts, little voice or otherwise. There's no place to put anything else until you drop the number from storage.

So, I think that explains the confusion - the little voice competes with everything else for short term memory. Run a "pig" process like mental algebra, and the little voice loses a faculty needed for its proper functioning.

When Archimedes did spontaneously vocalize "Eureka!" he forgot to put his clothes on. Sounds like his short term memory was full up.

Could be, and that is definitely a well thought out answer. The thing that I want to know about all of you personally is not how the voice works, but what it is? The Voice is internally generated, not recall. It is heard like a sound, with no auditory vibration. It has been used in everything from cooking in the kitchen, to praying, to writing novels, histories, devising master plans, and trying to figure out where that other sock went ("I know there were two when they went IN the dryer... damn dryer gnomes..."). I don't want to know what Jung or Freud thought, I've read all of that multiple times, I want to know what you think about it.

Edited by Fantomex

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The thing that I want to know about all of you personally is not how the voice works, but what it is?

What it is:

it is the 'essence' of you. It is the 'real' you. It is the 'soul' you. It is the 'ancient primeval you'. It is 'the first cognitive thought you ever had'...the thought that was...'I am'. It is the 'I am' voice. It is an old thought...an ancient, primeval thought, it is the original thought..contrived long before you ever had a NeoCortex.

It is: The Voice of Life

All other thoughts, feelings, emotions, everything you have ever done, or said is in direct response to That Voice. I am. That Voice evaluates every other voice...it is not dependent upon any other voice...it is its own.

It is: The Voice of Life

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Joc! Haven't seen you in a while. Howya doin'?

Well, Fantomex, it's no secret around here that I am a fan of Carl Jung.

That particular post, however, was founded on my personal experience of an interior voice, and on other first person narratives, some posted here. It was supplemented by a few classic and uncontroversial experimental findings. I don't see a lot of Jung in the post, and no Freud at all.

I believe that the voice is your anticipation, your best estimate, of what you would hear if you were to speak your thoughts aloud. We know from experiment that such anticipation (or something very similar to it) exists, and is used as part of the process by which speech is produced, and would be used if you did actually carry through and say your thoughts aloud (*).

Which, of course, plenty of people do. Maybe they mutter your little speech about the socks in the laundry, but to mutter is to speak. And whether muttered or only thought, the words are the same either way.

Don't know about yours, but my interior voice can mutter, scream, whisper, chew the carpet, or recite with icy calm. By an amazing coincidence, just what my mouth can do, and by another amazing coincidence, no more than my mouth can do (for example, although I can "hear" what artificial voice effects would sound like, echoes, reverbs, frequency shifts, etc., these never come up spontaneously when I am thinking, unless I am thinking about these effects).

No doubt there is some clearer way to say it than "talking to yourself while 'cutting out the middleman,'" but that was the best I could do on short notice.

Maybe I should talk to myself some more about this, and see if I can do better :).

----

(*) The method is straightforward. Give a literate and fluent speaker a text to read aloud. Put well soundproofed audio headphones on his or her head, and using a microphone, feed the sound of the subject's voice with a short delay through the headphones.

The subject will be tongue-tied almost immediately, and even if instructed to concentrate on the text to be read and not to attend to what is heard, the subject's speech will be labored and sound as if he or she had a severe speech impediment, which for the moment, he or she does.

Turn the voice through the phones off, or zero out the delay, and there is no problem, almost immediately.

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Nice topic.

Just like majority, I suppose, I usually think without words but sometimes with words. (what a pointless sentence, lol)

Well, anyway, I have been thinking about it alot. The voice I hear when I read doesn't sound like my vocal voice. It seems like my voice, but, I would say, it's more... it sounds like a perfect voice of mine. It's cleaned. It's somewhat colourless, but its intonation is perfect. Thoughts sound much worse when I say them aloud.

Another crazy thought that I have...I think this voice is somehow connected with a "person" behind pronouns. There is someone behind "I", "they"and "you". ("he" and "she" shows gender at least). Someone faceless, who is, I believe, from the same place as "inner voice".

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Nice topic.

Just like majority, I suppose, I usually think without words but sometimes with words. (what a pointless sentence, lol)

Well, anyway, I have been thinking about it alot. The voice I hear when I read doesn't sound like my vocal voice. It seems like my voice, but, I would say, it's more... it sounds like a perfect voice of mine. It's cleaned. It's somewhat colourless, but its intonation is perfect. Thoughts sound much worse when I say them aloud.

Another crazy thought that I have...I think this voice is somehow connected with a "person" behind pronouns. There is someone behind "I", "they"and "you". ("he" and "she" shows gender at least). Someone faceless, who is, I believe, from the same place as "inner voice".

Insteresting. Something I'm finding interesting here is that a majority of people tell me they think in images. Now, I understand the concept of HEARING something and trying to produce the image or situational events in a series to mentally recreate the event, but are you actually saying that when you talk to someone and you are trying to make a point, you talk to that person using your interpretations of mental images? This is fascinating me. When I think something out in my head, it is almost exclusively in verbal monologue format, with almost no, if any, imagery associated with it. Almost as if I have the conversation first, then speak, or write, it out. Among you all, is that something that you can concur with, or am I working on a permanent reservation at the "Happy Hotel" with the padded floors, no shoelaces, and "I Love ME!" jackets?

Edited by Fantomex

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Joc! Haven't seen you in a while. Howya doin'?

Well, Fantomex, it's no secret around here that I am a fan of Carl Jung.

That particular post, however, was founded on my personal experience of an interior voice, and on other first person narratives, some posted here. It was supplemented by a few classic and uncontroversial experimental findings. I don't see a lot of Jung in the post, and no Freud at all.

I believe that the voice is your anticipation, your best estimate, of what you would hear if you were to speak your thoughts aloud. We know from experiment that such anticipation (or something very similar to it) exists, and is used as part of the process by which speech is produced, and would be used if you did actually carry through and say your thoughts aloud (*).

Which, of course, plenty of people do. Maybe they mutter your little speech about the socks in the laundry, but to mutter is to speak. And whether muttered or only thought, the words are the same either way.

Don't know about yours, but my interior voice can mutter, scream, whisper, chew the carpet, or recite with icy calm. By an amazing coincidence, just what my mouth can do, and by another amazing coincidence, no more than my mouth can do (for example, although I can "hear" what artificial voice effects would sound like, echoes, reverbs, frequency shifts, etc., these never come up spontaneously when I am thinking, unless I am thinking about these effects).

No doubt there is some clearer way to say it than "talking to yourself while 'cutting out the middleman,'" but that was the best I could do on short notice.

Maybe I should talk to myself some more about this, and see if I can do better :).

----

(*) The method is straightforward. Give a literate and fluent speaker a text to read aloud. Put well soundproofed audio headphones on his or her head, and using a microphone, feed the sound of the subject's voice with a short delay through the headphones.

The subject will be tongue-tied almost immediately, and even if instructed to concentrate on the text to be read and not to attend to what is heard, the subject's speech will be labored and sound as if he or she had a severe speech impediment, which for the moment, he or she does.

Turn the voice through the phones off, or zero out the delay, and there is no problem, almost immediately.

First, allow me to apologize for the patronizing remarks about Jung and Freud. The sarcasm was unintentional and only present to emphasize that while there may be finding from research on what these processes are, what the intent of the post was lies in hearing opinions on what the voice is. As you stated here, the anticipation of an imminently spoken phrase is an interesting concept, but you have also touched on something here that is at the essence of what I am wondering about.

Where you stated, "My interior voice can mutter, scream, whisper, chew the carpet, or recite with icy calm. By an amazing coincidence, just what my mouth can do, and by another amazing coincidence, no more than my mouth can do (for example, although I can "hear" what artificial voice effects would sound like, echoes, reverbs, frequency shifts, etc., these never come up spontaneously when I am thinking, unless I am thinking about these effects).", the fact that you can "make" your (from here on out I shall refer to the internal voice as IV) do all of these things, and does not occur without effort on your part, the IV is at least as much under your control as your physical voice. That being said, your voice is the vibration of vocal cords, air movement, the carefully defined placement of tongue and teeth, all combine to make words, for any in close enough proximity to discern. Now, the IV, no vibration, no physical manifestation whatsoever except the percieved event happening ONLY to you. So it can be "manipulated" just like you physical voice, and yet perceived by no one. This is what I am trying to get more and more opinions on.

As for the tests of this happening, I see how the influx of information can disrupt the process, but it's not really proof of anything except that opposite forces, well, oppose. This latest auitory test shows disruption, but in the same way that if I asked you to breath in through your mouth and out through your nose at the same time. One in, one out, but not simutaneously. What do you think?

Edited by Fantomex

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You talking about George???

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That being said, your voice is the vibration of vocal cords, ... Now, the IV, no vibration, no physical manifestation whatsoever except the percieved event happening ONLY to you. So it can be "manipulated" just like you physical voice, and yet perceived by no one. This is what I am trying to get more and more opinions on.

We can agree that there is a big difference between "perceived by no one" and "perceived by no one but me," right?

Madonna tries out a riff in her head. If it is not so good, then just as well no one else hears it. If it is good, then it easy enough for her to arrange that others hear it. Money in the bank, handy faculty, lucky Madonna. Evolution by natural selection triumphs again.

She couldn't do it if she couldn't do everything with her IV that she could do with real voice. And if she decides to punch it up with a little wow and flutter, then she will think of wow and flutter, and hear those effects as well.

As to the other, I can't breathe in through my mouth and out through my nose. The air flows at all only because the pressure in my lungs is higher or lower than the air around me. The pressure difference is the same, regardless of path. The tide only flows one way at a time.

BTW, In the experiment I mentioned, mere information won't disrupt the process. People speak perfectly well when listening to music, when other people are talking, etc.

It is the specific information that is disruptive in the demonstration, plausible but false feedback about the sound you are producing. You can speak just fine without any auditory feedback (deaf people do that all the time), what is disruptive is false feedback.

And it disrupts because you are comparing it to what you expected to hear... which can also be represented to yourself as a voice in your head, and can function counterfactually (what I would hear if I were speaking, but I am not).

It is notoriously difficult to discuss interior private mental states, so perhaps this is some of what is getting in our way here.

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We can agree that there is a big difference between "perceived by no one" and "perceived by no one but me," right?

Madonna tries out a riff in her head. If it is not so good, then just as well no one else hears it. If it is good, then it easy enough for her to arrange that others hear it. Money in the bank, handy faculty, lucky Madonna. Evolution by natural selection triumphs again.

She couldn't do it if she couldn't do everything with her IV that she could do with real voice. And if she decides to punch it up with a little wow and flutter, then she will think of wow and flutter, and hear those effects as well.

As to the other, I can't breathe in through my mouth and out through my nose. The air flows at all only because the pressure in my lungs is higher or lower than the air around me. The pressure difference is the same, regardless of path. The tide only flows one way at a time.

BTW, In the experiment I mentioned, mere information won't disrupt the process. People speak perfectly well when listening to music, when other people are talking, etc.

It is the specific information that is disruptive in the demonstration, plausible but false feedback about the sound you are producing. You can speak just fine without any auditory feedback (deaf people do that all the time), what is disruptive is false feedback.

And it disrupts because you are comparing it to what you expected to hear... which can also be represented to yourself as a voice in your head, and can function counterfactually (what I would hear if I were speaking, but I am not).

It is notoriously difficult to discuss interior private mental states, so perhaps this is some of what is getting in our way here.

Right, trying to discuss it is difficult, but I think what's happening here is we are having two different conversations that are happening to intersect at some points. First, I think we are agreeing on the fact the the IV is something that has a two way mimic with the physical voice; one influences the other. Both can be manipulated, right? :-/

I don't fully agree that people can talk without disruption when listening to music, or during a conversation. I know people that can barely say what they mean in a quiet room when it's just the two of us without me saying a word, and have you ever tried to talk to someone in the car while the radio is on? Or looked for a street sign or more specifically and address with the radio turned up? It's very difficult, because we are using the IV to conciously recollect the series of digits, and the incoming information interferes. That is also why so many people have to "think out loud". To drown out white noise, interference, and focus on the thought itself. That was my reference to the breathing. I believe that the IV works in much the same way. You can use it to recieve, or to dispense, but not both at the same time; ie "As to the other, I can't breathe in through my mouth and out through my nose. The air flows at all only because the pressure in my lungs is higher or lower than the air around me. The pressure difference is the same, regardless of path. The tide only flows one way at a time."

The reference about the deaf is very subjective depending on who is speaking and who is listening. If someone who is hearing impaired is encouraged to speak, the will get confirmation from those they speak to, and will progressively learn to form clearer words without being able to hear themselves. Likewise if you have grown up a hearing person who has had to learn by necessity to understand the substantial speech impediment that can often times accompany the hearing impaired, your receptiveness to that, how should I say, dialect, in greatly increased over someone who hasn't had to learn it. Much like a spanish speaking individual from Mexico not being able to understand a spanish speaking individual from Puerto Rico. Both are speaking the same language, but there is a barrier present due to inexperience. The dialect and coloquialism is great enough to be a complete impairment to understanding.

Once again I am indebted to you for bringing up another point. Since the hearing impaired (assuming that we are speaking about someone born deaf and not someone who became deaf) has never experienced sound as we in the hearing community have, do they possess that inner monologue? Is it as some here have stated a series of images related to memory? I'f you are hearing impaired, or you know someone who is, I would greatly and warmly welcome you or them to comment here. The more people here, the wider the experience, the greater opportunity for understanding.

Edited by Fantomex

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Well, we do seem to be getting closer :).

I don't think I got across the degree of impairment in the headphones experiment. The subject is instantly disabled, not just inconvenienced or distracted. He or she has the script in hand, can read it, but cannot say it aloud in anything even remotely like normal speech.

I agree that other, painless, environmental distractions may impair performance (or not, it depends on the person and the distraction), but not to the extent that occurs in the experiment. And the specificity of the experimental impairment is also distinctive (reading ability is OK, forming the words is OK, but the tongue is tied in knots).

All of which points to the existence of a specific function for the capacity to form a detailed expectation of what you would sound like if you spoke aloud. The inner voice serves a real purpose. And given that "hearing" your thoughts is possible, it is unsurprising that the capacity will be put to other uses, too.

And if people complain about loud noise, anechoic chambers are not necessarily ideal places for contemplative thought, either. Putting aside that many folks can hear their heartbeats, which weirds some people out, silence can be oppressive, too.

The gold standard narrative for deafness from infancy is Helen Keller's, who was also blind (not from birth, but as a baby). The big hurdle in her case was language acquisition - learning the idea of language.

Every writer's favorite theater and movie scene is the moment in The Miracle Worker where Helen's teacher, Annie Sullivan, holds Helen's hand under flowing water and spells out "W-A-T-E-R" on Helen's palm. In that moment, Helen gets IT - that the word and the thing in the world are one and the same. The hair stands up on the back of my neck just thinking about that.

In any case, Fantomex, what I lack in diversity of viewpoint, I make up for in due process bumpery of the thread. Somebody will wander in if we babble on long enough :). I'd like to hear about deaf people's experience of language, too.

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