Subvocalization, or silent speech, is defined as the internal speech made when reading a word, thus allowing the reader to imagine the sound of the word as it is read. This is a natural process when reading and helps to reduce cognitive load, and it helps the mind to access meanings to enable it to comprehend and remember what is read. Although some people associate subvocalization with moving one's lips, the actual term refers primarily to the movement of muscles associated with speaking, not the literal moving of lips. Most subvocalization is undetectable (without the aid of machines) even by the person doing the subvocalizing.

Subvocalization involves actual movements of the tongue and vocal cords that can be interpreted by electromagnetic sensors. Since 1999 NASA, as part of its Extension of the Human Senses program, has been working on a system that can interpret a limited number of English words using nervous signals gathered from sensors placed on the throat's exterior. Chief Scientist for Neuroengineering at NASA Ames Research Center, Dr. Chuck Jorgensen, has suggested that it could have potential applications for rescue operations people, security and special operations forces, people with vocal cord problems, and might even find a place in gaming.

Advocates of speed reading generally claim that subvocalization "places extra burden on the cognitive resources, thus, slowing the reading down." These claims are currently backed only by controversial, sometimes non-existent scientific research; in some cases, concepts are drawn from pseudoscience and urban myths about the brain. Speedreading courses often prescribe lengthy practices to eliminate subvocalizing when reading. Normal reading instructors often simply apply remedial teaching to a reader who subvocalizes to the degree that they make visible movements on the lips, jaw, or throat.

There is no evidence that normal non-observable subvocalizing will negatively affect any reading process Carver, R.P-Prof (1990) Reading Rate: A Comprehensive Review of Research and Theory (1990)] At the more powerful rates (memorizing, learning, and reading for comprehension), subvocalizing is very detectable by the reader. At the less powerful, faster rates of reading, (skimming, and scanning) subvocalization is less detectable. For competent readers, subvocalizing to some extent even at scanning rates is normal.McWhorter, K. (2002) Efficient and Flexible Reading. Longman]

It may be impossible to totally eliminate subvocalization because people learn to read by associating the sight of words with their spoken sounds. Sound associations for words are indelibly imprinted on the nervous system—even of deaf people, since they will have associated the word with the mechanism for causing the sound or a sign in a particular sign language. Subvocalizing is an inherent part of reading and understanding a word, and micro-muscle tests suggest that subvocalizing is impossible to eliminate. Attempting to stop subvocalizing is potentially harmful to comprehension, learning, and memory. At the more powerful reading rates (100-300 words per minute), subvocalizing can be used to improve comprehension.

ee also

*Subvocal recognition


External links

* [ NASA Develops System to Computerize Silent, 'Subvocal Speech' ]
* [ NASA researchers can hear what you're saying, even when you don't make a sound ]
* [ An interview with NASA's Chuck Jorgensen on the Subvocal Speech] - including pictures and video of the technology.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • subvocalization —    Also referred to as motor hallucination, motor verbal hallucination, psychomotor verbal hallucination, and muscular verbal hallucination. The term subvocalization comes from the Latin words sub (beneath) and vox (voice). It refers to a process …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

  • subvocalization — noun Date: 1947 the act or process of inaudibly articulating speech with the speech organs • subvocalize verb …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • subvocalization — See subvocalize. * * * …   Universalium

  • subvocalization — noun a) The formation in thought of words or statements, which are expressed inwardly but not uttered aloud. b) Subvocal words or statements so formed …   Wiktionary

  • subvocalization — sub·vo·cal·iza·tion also Brit sub·vo·cal·isa·tion .vō kə lə zā shən n the act or process of inaudibly articulating speech with speech organs sub·vo·cal·ize also Brit sub·vo·cal·ise vō kə .līz vb, ized also Brit ised; iz·ing also Brit is·ing …   Medical dictionary

  • subvocalization — sub·vocalization …   English syllables

  • subvocalization — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Speed reading — Jimmy Carter and his daughter Amy participate in a speed reading course …   Wikipedia

  • Subvocal recognition — (SVR) is the process of taking subvocalization and converting the detected results to a digital text based output. It is similar to voice recognition except it is silent subvocalization being detected. It is a new technology being researched and… …   Wikipedia

  • direct voice —    Also known as direct voice phenomenon. Both terms are used in parapsychology to denote an isolated voice, perceived by those participating in a spiritualist séance, as coming from a distinct location in extracorporeal space, and allegedly… …   Dictionary of Hallucinations

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