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The Voices Inside You

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Where would we be without the voices in our heads? To get at this question, Charles Fernyhough raises another: can children think before they have words? According to Fernyhough, a Russian psychologist named Lev Vygotsky developed a theory about how the words and voices we hear as kids turn from speech outside our heads, to speech inside our heads... and help steer our reasoning and decision-making.

But, of course, not all the voices echoing inside our skulls are friendly helpers. Claude Steele describes how big an impact negative inner voices can have when we're stressed, and just how powerful words and stereotypes can be.

Read more:

Charles Fernyhough, A Thousand Days of Wonder

Comments [3]

Sherry Henry

I recently watched a PBS documentary that showed research involving children too young to communicate verbally (8-10 months old). These children watched puppets in a small scene where one puppet was kind and helpful and the 2nd puppet was aggressive and not at all helpful. After the scene, the children were given a choice between taking the nice or the aggressive puppet and most of the children chose the nice puppet. The research demonstrated that even pre-verbal children can think things through and make decisions based on the info presented to them. In my opinion, this negates the thought that pre-verbal children "have no thoughts".

Aug. 22 2014 09:22 AM
bathrobe gin from berkeley

Perhaps if you had a less judgmental linguistic frame of reference you wouldn't consider things with which you disagree ludicrous or asinine.

Jul. 15 2013 11:34 PM

This is asinine.

We have two boys. I experienced something remarkable from both.

The Elder developed his own language when he was an infant. I was able to recognize / learn about twenty concepts he would communicate.

Certain sound patterns were easy for me to recognize. He would link them in different ways to communicate ideas. When I would switch a 'sound sequence', he would correct me (and often get upset).

He continued to develop normally and started speaking our language (English) in a timely manner.

I noticed similar behavior in our neighbor's kids. Well, the youngest.

This researcher implies that small children do not think because they do not know the language of their parents (yet) is ludicrous.

Jun. 29 2013 03:09 PM

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