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Voices in Your Head

Tuesday, September 07, 2010 - 09:54 PM

Jad talks to Charles Fernyhough about the connection between thought, inner speech, and the voice in our heads.

In our last episode, Words, we got into a debate about whether kids can think before they have words. For this podcast, Jad revisits that question with Charles Fernyhough, who tells Jad about a theory developed by a Russian psychologist name Lev Vygotsky. Vygotsky’s theory describes how words and thoughts move from speech outside our heads to speech inside our heads. We also talk to someone who hears other people's voices in his head, and ask Fernyhough about whether Vygotsky's ideas could shed light on this surprisingly common phenomena.

If you want to read more about voice-hearing and schizophrenia, check out the study that Fernyhough mentioned in this podcast.

Guests:

Charles Fernyhough

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Comments [88]

JohnGalt

I think the general idea of having an inner voice is interesting. Why does the brain need to talk to the body rather than just act? I speak two different languages, Korean and English, and it's weird because most days my inner voice is English but i have some days where I think in Korean. I also think the inner voice is often frightening because people say one thing but think another thing. If humans are able to think to themselves, what would animals think if they have an inner voice at all? Babies must have a conscience so is their inner voice actual words or just babbles? I think this podcast makes one wonder and think about how complex the mind is and why we have that inner voice

Apr. 25 2014 10:17 PM
Naji from Santa Clarita

That last story I couldn't help but think of the song "Voices" by Chris Young.

Oct. 21 2013 07:21 PM
sandra johnson from florida

I have a sister who is paranoid schizophrenic but she has no idea that she is ill. She hears voices and lives alone. She 'hears' our dead brother talking to her and recently she claims to have recorded two men talking to each other on a two-way radio. In the past she blogged constantly about hearing things and seeing things that weren't there.
My sister has posted many songs on YouTube.com that she sang and if she didn't recognize her own voice then how could she know it was her singing the songs?
My brother was also paranoid and I believe he too was schizophrenic. Even though he didn't hear voices he made claims about seeing people who weren't there.

Oct. 20 2013 11:36 AM
lolwtf

sb: "There is a group of families in New Ulm,MN ... utilizing short wave radios ... aimed at a persons residence that person will expierience this and have the feeling that they are hearing voices in there head. They do this in the hopes of causing that person to commit suicide or go crazy ... They include the Melcherts Vanderlouws, Sellners, Wielands, Postels, Bodes, Wellmans, Shavers, Waltzs, Griebles, Groebners, Bingers, Zimmermanns, Corbetts, Beckers, Johnson, Portners, Geyers,Harders, Petersens, Heinrichs, Whites, Akyers, Steffens and more."

You're trolling, right?

Oct. 19 2013 08:21 PM
Sblokz

There is a group of families in New Ulm,MN and surronding area that have messed with me for a year and a half utilizing short wave radios broadcasting at a frequency of 50-100khz. Which will give the effect of a neurophone which is a device that allows deaf people the ability to hear low frequency broadcasts via bone conduction. When this technique is aimed at a persons residence that person will expierience this and have the feeling that they are hearing voices in there head. They do this in the hopes of causing that person to commit suicide or go crazy. They are sick fucking people and there are other families that live throught america who practice this method. They include the Melcherts Vanderlouws, Sellners, Wielands, Postels, Bodes, Wellmans, Shavers, Waltzs, Griebles, Groebners, Bingers, Zimmermanns, Corbetts, Beckers, Johnson, Portners, Geyers,Harders, Petersens, Heinrichs, Whites, Akyers, Steffens and more. If you are expieriencing voices speaking to you and they sometimes seem to project themselves to an outside noise source this is probably what you are expieriencing. The Aclu has file a lawsuit requiring the FBI and FCC to investigate this. Please contact me at 763-280-4181 if you are expieriencing this as we can help eac h other get this prosecuted.

Feb. 28 2013 06:37 PM
Tom W. from Atlanta

Hi, Radiolab (community) -

I was reading the following news story today and was reminded of the podcast. Perhaps it can help to answer the question....

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2013-01-womb-babies-language-mothers.html

Jan. 09 2013 01:56 PM

After the experiment and results where discussed I paused the podcast. I felt a sense of shock. Here I was listening to someone I knew to be caring, thoughtful, scientifically minded, talking to someone with a doctorate in Psychology, and they seem to be completely missing a fundamental flaw in the experiment.

Someone who hears voices is going to develop a much keener awareness of the sound of "their" voice, just to fight the disease. In fact, much of their mental energy is spent determining what voices are "theirs" and what ones are not.

They would be far more sensitive to variations on "their" voice. So the reaction seen in this experiment is totally predictable, but for the wrong reasons.

What struck me most about this is that nobody in the podcast caught it. It makes me wonder if some deeper, more Radiolaby, force is at work here. Unfortunately I can't afford the paywall fees to see if this is addressed in more detail in the full study, but honestly I don't see how it could be.

Dec. 06 2012 05:54 PM
Kevin McGuire

I am curious about whether or not when we "hear our thoughts" the hearing part of our brain lights up? maybe "hearing" is a bit of a misnomer? also what does this imply when people say they hear the voice of god or their mother or someone else? what about hearing voices in our dreams? if the hearing part of our brain doesn't light up when we think, maybe we "hear" the voices of our conscience in a different sense. would love to "hear" a follow up to this radio lab!

Nov. 25 2012 01:40 AM
Jennifer Howard from Asheville

For the past 4 months, I am having problems with hearing the voices of other people in my head. I need to know if this is normal and if there is a way to eliminate them entirely. I became aware of these negative voices that I attribute to a man whose affections I left behind. He has three children and I hear two of the children's voices alot and it stings. They pick on my heart and harass me to limitlessly. I have a brain disorder and none of these symptoms have risen before. Could this internal voice be a function of the environment included and how does one know if language is utilized in this function? Are words in our heads common among people and are they different than normal conscious patterns of thought? I believe that my mind will be expunged once there's a medium to eliminate the drudgery of bothersome, mind numbing voices.

Nov. 17 2012 10:25 AM
Petter Andreas Nordal from Elmira, New York

I have been thinking about this for several weeks and can't think of anyone else who might be able to answer this question: why do diaries work? Who are we speaking to? Who are we writing to? And why do I feel terrible when I have something that I have to write down until I get it down on paper, even if I then put that paper away and completely forget about it, even lose or destroy the paper. Why does it work. This short seems clearly related.

Mar. 14 2012 09:44 AM
Manoj dhakal from Nepal

I also used to hear voice in my head but by taking medicine now i am almost fine. In this case we actually hear voice in language which we know but we mainly hear such voice from shower, sound of machine , train etc. Being victim of this disease i know though we hear sound in our head it is sound from inside of our mind and outer environment. when machine stop we also can't hear such voice. In this case we hear sound repeatedly which we think but when machine stop our hearing process of sound became less or zero.

Dec. 30 2011 01:22 AM
Mike Hunt from no

..sucks..

Oct. 10 2011 09:49 AM
Latiff Seruwagi

Actually, the proposition that human beings cannot think unless they do so in words is blatantly false. And, quoting Einstein.
"Words … do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The physical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be “voluntarily” reproduced and combined … before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other signs …These physical entities are of visual and some of muscular type."

There is an excellent book that goes into this called "The Mathematician's Mind" by Jacques Hadamard where the subject is touched upon in the appendices.

Aug. 10 2011 08:43 PM

Lyssa-

Sorry, I meant verbal thought. Audible Thought. Radiolab has done another episode which talks about non-verbal thought (I think the episode is titled "Words"), which is, in essence, just experience. They say verbal thought (left-sided) is more of a logical process, whereas right-sided thought, which doesn't take the form of words, is emotional. My whole story was just about verbal thought... I'm sure deaf people think in a completely different way, which doesn't have anything to do with my story, because they cannot even comprehend sound.

Jul. 28 2011 07:50 AM

Theodora-

I've heard that episode, but not recently. I think I'll listen to it, tonight.

I'm not sure exactly WHY my thoughts sounded that way, or if they even did. It may have been my injury messing up my thought, but I have had many people tell me they've experienced the same thing, or something similar, and I have noticed, when I'm trying to find a certain word which is just on the tip of my tongue, I repeat a lot of sounds or words in my head, over and over, and they overlap, and when I find the word, it is very similar to the sounds I heard. I'm still not sure what to think about the entire thing, though. So far, it's just an interesting experience.

Jul. 25 2011 05:39 PM
Claire

It seems to my this idea, of thought only occurign through words, ties in very well with the Orwellian idea of Newspeak. If there's not a word for it, than clearly there can't be a thought, or so this would suggest.

The question becomes which came first, the thought or the word?Are there experiences, feeling, like freedom, that exist without words?

Apr. 18 2011 03:58 PM
Lyssa

As I was listening to this episode, I realised that you didn't fully carry out the implications of your logic. In this short, you claim thought requires language. More specifically, spoken language.

What of deaf people? If you take someone who was deaf from birth, who has never heard a sound, how would they think?

Apr. 18 2011 03:48 PM
Theodora

Yonny -

I just read your story, which was fascinating, and then happened to start listening to the "Who Are You?" episode. Have you listened to it?

http://www.radiolab.org/2010/may/14/

The description about 6 minutes in about how babies likely hear sounds echoed reminded me of what you were discussing. I'm not sure if it actually is similar, but I thought it might be of interest. Could, potentially, that head injury, have temporarily marred your ability to filter out the echoes?

Apr. 04 2011 01:22 PM

I'm not sure how to put this, really, and I haven't done any extensive research on the inner workings of the human mind, but I do know what I've experienced, and though it may sound crazy, I've managed to convince myself that it is a possibility... and I tend to be skeptic of most things.

First off, I should let you know, this does not depict any thorough belief I have in how thought works, it's just an interesting story, and theory that I thought I would share.

Okay, so... I am a 17-year-old boy. As far as I can tell, I'm healthy. I've never had any major health problems... except a benign tumor removed in the fifth grade, and the contraction of Chicken Pox, Scarlet Fever, and Pneumonia all at the same time... Okay, well, I've never had any PSYCHOLOGICAL problems.

The story begins with a football game. (I'm not much of an athlete, but I did love to play.) Well, during one game, I'm running, and the ball is soaring through the air, towards my hands. I'm close to the makeshift end-zone we have created in the school parking lot. If I catch this, we win the game.

The ball starts to descend, and I'm practically an inch from the end-zone... Suddenly... I feel a snag on my right foot.
I stumble, and begin to fall. I take around 6-7 fumbling steps, and tumble over. As I'm falling, I hit my head on the concrete base of a light-post. I black out for a few minutes, but the whole time, I felt conscious. I felt time passing by, yet, I wasn't in my body. I was... somewhere else. All I saw was black, yet I felt the comfort of my home. I can't say exactly what was happening, but it felt as if I was... in a memory. I could hear the music on my computer playing, and I could hear the shower in the room next to mine.

Something was strange, though. The sounds were very distorted. They weren't fuzzy, or impossible to comprehend. They were... overlapping. I heard each sound more than 1,000 times each second (obviously an estimation. I can't count that fast.) The sound of a drop of water was elapsed thousands of times at once, and it became one single sound in my head.

When I awoke, I felt fine. The strangest part of this experience, though, was that the overlapping effect on my thoughts was still occurring. I'm not sure why. I was slightly pleased, though. I wanted to let it happen a while longer, and try to understand it.

As I thought, I noticed that I could hear my voice in my head rapidly saying each word of the thought. For example, saying the name "John" would, in text, look like this, "J(J)o[J](o)h{J}[o](h)n[h]{o}(n){h}[n]{n}"... I guess. That's honestly my most accurate depiction of this occurrence.

(Had to cut comment... 5,000 characters!)

Jan. 19 2011 11:52 PM

(Continuation of Comment)

As I thought about it, and thinking WAS very strange, I started to come up with an idea of why this was happening. (Once, again, just a theory, and I don't believe I've figured out how thought really works.)

I decided that the overlapping, rapid repetition of my thoughts was actually my normal thought process, and, for some reason, I could just hear it a different way. I'm not sure how one would go about hearing thoughts a different way, I just think I was. So, I started to think... "Maybe... we think this way all the time, and there's something in our mind that takes this chaotic overlapping, and makes it into a smooth thought." ... So... I came up with the idea that thoughts come in millions of little, overlapping bits that form together into a single, smooth thought.

Also, I started to think... "These bits... they must come from somewhere."... after thinking about it, I came up with an idea... My idea is: Our ears take in sounds, and the brain stores them. (This we know). So, not only do we store some sounds... we store ALL of them, and we access ALL of them on a daily basis. When we think, we access these sounds... but... our brain can't just hear them. Our brain doesn't have ears. BUT! WE have ears. So, faster than you could imagine, those stored sounds are routed back through your ears, and into your brain, which is like hearing those sounds again. The sounds, though, are happening so incredibly fast, that we couldn't even begin to handle what we were thinking if the sound was only routed through once. So... the brain sends segments of the thoughts thousands of times in a second, and each segment is progressing through the thought, and it eventually seems to slow enough for us to understand the thought.

The part I couldn't find an answer to was why we don't normally hear thoughts in the rapid, overlapping manner that I heard them in for that week-or-so. So... I was left with two conclusions: 1) My theory is B.S., and I was just being a little creative. or... 2) There IS something that morphs together this rapid thinking, and I just couldn't think of anything because I don't have a thorough-enough understanding of the brain, and it's workings.

So... that's my story, and I hope you enjoyed it. I know many of you probably have many criticisms, and I'm okay with that. I just felt this urge to share this story, and I'm ready for any criticism I may receive.

Jan. 19 2011 11:52 PM
Tobias from San Francisco

My comment is on the theory that words give us thought, at least the way we know it, and that the words are used for an inner monologue that we call thought. I believe that that theory is at least partially wrong. This is why:

I grew up in Sweden and immigrated to the States as an adult. Even though I knew English before my migration, and had studied it since primary school, moving here was when I first became essentially bilingual. That means that I know how things were when I had one language, and how they are now that I have two languages.

What I have noticed is that my thought process is divided into at least two distinct and separate processes/layers. The first layer deals with the concepts of what I want to express, this layer has no words. The second layer is the layer that puts words to those concepts. These concepts are to me clearly more abstract and condensed than normal words. E.g. the concept behind the statement "I like chocolate" is atomic, though in order to put words to it requires three actual words, as well as a number of grammatical rules to be applied to those words. This division of how my mind constructs actual thought was not apparent to me until I gained a second language. That was when I began to notice how these processes interacted and that they weren't actually the one and the same. The reason why I am convinced that there are two different layers containing different processes that works in this manner is because of two reasons:

1) My conceptual process frequently runs ahead of the process putting words to the concepts (this could well be because I am a slow speaker in general). Something that do happen with an uncomfortable frequency is that my concept process creates something to be translated into words and then the translation takes so long time that I forget the last concept that needed translating and I lose my thread in that sentence.

2) The concept layer is independent of language. This manifests itself when I realize halfway through a sentence that the way it is structured, or the way I am planning to express a concept in it is not possible in the language I'm currently speaking in, rather it belongs in my other language. I take this as a sign that concepts are at a much higher abstraction level than that of actual words (maybe we create words when we cannot comfortably express an important concept with our current vocabulary?). This was insight I gained with my second language.

That being said, I believe that I have gained many new concepts from learning another language. Common analogues, idiomatic expressions, and many words that do not have an exact translation have become new concepts, but I find it unreasonable that basic concepts like hunger, pain etc were not there even before I had the layer that could put words to them.

Of course, these conclusions have been reached through introspection (not the most scientific method), I still believe that it has something valid to offer in this case.

Jan. 19 2011 10:23 PM
Natalie

As a mother of a 3-year-old who constantly, constantly talks, I find this very comforting. When I feeling overwhelmed by the sound and insistent narration, I think about just how important it is for him to do it. Thanks, Jad.

Jan. 03 2011 10:06 PM
Tom Milward from UK

Im a 15 year ld high school student in the UK and I agree with this, that without languages we can't think. This is one of the reasons why i think humans became the dominate specie. When ever i think about something i hear my voice in my head thinking. Thinking gives us intelligence without it we would all by like baby's. Where we feel instead of think.

Dec. 03 2010 01:59 PM
Amy from Darbydale, Ohio

When i was in high school, i went through a very stressed and depressed time during which i heard voices. The thing i find odd is that people talk about voices "in their heads." The voices, to me, all sounded absolutely like they were coming from the *outside,* like any other auditory input, no different from music or conversation. Another friend who had similar episodes noted the same thing. I've also had friends who were "visual thinkers" - one to the point where she often saw words as if they were printed out, rather than hearing them "spoken" in her mind. And i remember reading - perhaps it was in Temple Grandin's books? - of people who could hear what was playing on a radio, even when it was turned off. Couldn't such hyper sensitivity explain some peoples' voices?

Nov. 29 2010 12:19 AM
Kit from St Louis, MO

I have always had a very dominate inner voice. And I've always enjoyed it, but I feel it distances me from experiencing life "in the now."

But what I find interesting, is that not everyone I meet has that inner voice. I was discussing this with my girlfriend, and she says she essentially never has that inner voice. And found it a little annoying that without having it, she technically didn't think... according to the researcher on this.

Anybody else not really have an internal monologue?

Nov. 18 2010 02:04 PM
pat from Morris county, nj

I am not at al surprised that some people hear music in their heads. I'm just surprised that no one has done a show about it before.
I'm not jumping on the bandwagon when I say I always hears sounds in my head. Not music but explosions, rings, what I call "twizzles", crunches, high & low pitched sounds, crunches a real variety. Often I'm not sure if they're in or out side my head. I have been to a neurologist who has no explanation for it. An ENT specialist had no explanation either. I have read reports of it but as far as I've found out, no source. Might be a fascinating add on to this story.

Nov. 16 2010 08:09 AM
april from MPLS

So I have a (somewhat loopy) theory related to this:

Alongside our "3D" interactive environments, we are simultaneously creating/maintaining a "cognitive" interactive environment as well. The only metaphor I've been able to conjure so far for this notion is "phantoms." The people we interact with (or, perhaps merely those with whom we interact frequently or eventfully), leave behind a "phantom:" our impressions of them. And these "phantoms" often develop voice, personality, and are morphed into the larger fold of our (seemingly continuous) conscious chatter and personal narrative. In other words: our past interactions (and the 'voices' left in their wake) continue to interact inside the realm of conscious thought, even without continual "3D" interaction.

And although this is merely our brain collecting, organising, and categorising the flood of information it receives... to help us create meaning and maintain a cohesive narrative, we caricature the people and events in our lives with a distinct 'cognitive voice.' And in turn, these "phantom voices" have a direct influence over how we perceive and interact with the environment encountered in "3D." Mmmm... feedback loops. *Homer drool*

So that's it...at least according to the monkey grinding the organ pipes...who-HA!

Nov. 15 2010 10:34 PM
Doori

I'm a bilingual, and I have noticed the change of language in my inner voice. I have been studying in the US for 3 years and living with an American host family. Once I got fluent in English, I started to think in English. I mostly think in English when I am in school, but sometimes in my native language, when I visit my country or listen to the music for a long time.

It seems like when and where they learned the language matter less than the current circumstance they are in. I had a discussion with my multi-lingual friend the other day, and he says that he thinks in multiple language as well.

Oct. 29 2010 09:43 AM
Joel from Irvington NY

This piece reminded me of a very provocative book precisely on this subject: "The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind," by Julian Jaynes.

Jaynes' thesis, in brief, was that humans WERE NOT CONSCIOUS -- in the way we understand the term -- until about the time of Homer. He asserts -- and pulls together a great deal of archeological and anthropological data in support -- that prior to this time, humans were conscious the way a driver is conscious of the road, but without any other train of thought going on. This sufficed for most everyday situations, he says, but when confronted with something unfamiliar or dangerous, humans heard gods speaking to them: in reality, their own thoughts, projected outward.

Oct. 21 2010 02:35 PM
Jodi from Independence, MN

Hey, your tag spells "psychology" wrong. You have it spelled as "pyschology"

Enjoy RadioLab--keep it up!

Oct. 18 2010 09:01 PM

As an architect, I spend a spend a great deal of time in an intentional non-verbal place of visualization, a place of imagined slippages of form, texture and color. When someone walks up to me while in one of these frequent reveries and just starts talking to me, I find that I'm more apt to watch the lips move and hear the sounds, but without meaning, just form. I remember this happening when I was a child and my parents would try to wake me up in the morning by talking to me and I couldn't understand what they were saying at all, so completely foreign, as though I was still dreaming. I argued with my father that I was thinking without words as much as I was without them, but he told me it wasn't possible. My mother would just smile.

Oct. 10 2010 10:19 PM
Ralph Cooper from Winston-Salem, NC

Most insightful program. As an engineer designing for the automotive industry I perked up when the test for adults speaking back the exact words of the say-er produced the same non-capable-thinking as the rat brain non-processing of the 'food left of the blue wall'. IS THIS NOT THE SAME EFFECT AS TALKING ON A CELL PHONE WHILE DRIVING? People talking and closely mimicing the other person in conversation. People for a short period of time loose all spacial reference just because THEY CAN'T. BAN Cellphone DRIVING. Looks like a scientific study is in order here by the good lady at Harvard.

Oct. 10 2010 08:45 PM
John

I always thought the idea of internal verbal communication was more or less just a way one part of our brain likes to communicate. Whenever I'm incredibly tired or trying to think quickly, it seems like my thought process is more abbreviated and instinct driven, but also quicker and non-verbal.

Oct. 08 2010 06:07 AM
eiaboca from NYC

My Sociology professor in college, Sal Restivo, talked about having (other people's) voices in your head at all times, with a normal brain.

We discussed how you learn a concept of self from that society, from the reflections you get back from the people around you, that you'd be essentially nothing without the group, that our status as social animals force us to be group-defined.

So you're never alone, and when you're thinking about yourself it's really all the voices you have heard that make you who you are- your morality, the media that you have absorbed, your peers, your teachers and preachers, your family. All little nagging voices in your head.

Recently I was browsing at a bookstore and came across a section of Cambridge University Press books, and found one called "Others in Mind: Social Origins of Self-Consciousness," by Philippe Rochat of Emory University, and it goes into depth on this very topic.

I am so excited to read it!

Oct. 07 2010 12:44 AM
Andy P

wow! This segment helped me realize a great deal about myself. Thanks guys.

Sep. 30 2010 08:48 PM
April from Hillsborough, NC

When my son Ben was pre-verbal, around the age of 8 or 9 months, he experienced something dramatic (for an 8-month old, anyway) and remembered it and recounted it to me months later when he had words.
I know that's what he was doing because I was there for the drama and the story! His grandmother had come for a visit and we were all going out to dinner. Before we could get out the door and into the car, a violent thunderstorm blew in and we had to bundle-up the Ben and struggle through the door with the baby, diaper bag, huge umbrella, etc.--all while the wind was blowing and the thunder was booming. (Apparently nothing was getting between us and our NC barbeque!)
Anyway, months later when Ben was maybe 15 months old, he recounted this to me. Exclaiming that Grandma came and it was dark and BOOM and the black tent (umbrella) and the whole thing! It made the hair on the back of my neck rise up! He had stored this memory and shared it only after he had the means to do so.

He obviously was thinking without words. And once he had the words as tools, he could communicate his thoughts.

Sep. 28 2010 11:31 AM
Fred Fisher from Northern California

The section on how spacial orientation related to verbal thought made me also think of Temple Grandin. It sounds as if working with various forms of autism would be an interesting direction of study for Dr. Fernyhough

Sep. 27 2010 04:48 PM
Jim Lantolf from Pennsylvania

Vygotsky made a distinction between verbal and non-verbal thought. His focus was on verbal thought, which is the dominant but not the only form of thinking that humans engage in. We also think visually, imagistically, mathematically, gesturally, as Vygotsky recognized. He argued that before they develop language, children think, but not verbally. They think through images, smells, perhaps, and other systems that are not unlike what other animals use to think (e.g., apes). Once language enters the picture, thinking becomes verbal and therefore human.

The person who mentioned the issue of thinking in bilinguals raised a very interesting question that we have been researching for the past twenty years. Do bilinguals think in one or two languages? It seems to depend on what kind of bilingual a person is--when were the languages learned (childhood, adulthood), under what circumstances were they learned (school, natural setting) and what level of proficiency has been achieved in each language.

Sep. 27 2010 11:53 AM

Thank you for investigating the phenomenon of hearing voices. I cringe when I hear the word "schizophrenic" to casually describe anything discordant in our lives, as we simultaneously remain cruelly ignorant of the actual disease. What a relief to look at what might actually be happening in the brains of folks (in my case, family) who really struggle with hearing voices. I was left with a sense of "us" rather than "them" which is stigma-busting in itself. rock on.

Sep. 26 2010 06:32 PM
Maria from United States

From the first mention of brain injury to the last notes of music at the end of the program, I could not stop listening. This is one of the best produced and most engaging podcasts I have found in a long time.
I suffer from complex migraines and one of the side effects is sudden loss of speech and loss of language. I just forget words. My brain knows what I want, it sees the images and the sensory inputs for the thing, but it just doesn't remember the words. I am totally blind, so inventing signs for these things is sometimes very difficult. I've often considered learning sign language but it seems more trouble than it's worth. In any case, I can't imagine totally losing every word.
Thank you for all the food for thought. I look forward to your next podcast.

Sep. 24 2010 08:52 PM
Barry LeBron from New York

Fascinating. I feel that Ms. Taylor's experience was different from the deaf Nicaraguans, or the man who referred to it as 'dark years' before gaining speech, in that Taylor's experience was also void of the need, or impulse our mind has to abstract existence, thus leading to separation: "sunrise, brother, book, love..." While the others, although lacking words and education to wrap their minds around complex concepts, were engaged in this path of defining the world. Hence the silent bullfight routine. So the great joy she felt does sound similar to the benefits of meditation, an enlightened release from even wanting to abstract oneself into thought of any kind.

Also, yes, just like any field of study, the more words you have, the more you can 'think.' Eskimos 'know' snow in 21 concepts, way more than me. And in my own passion, music, I wish I could imagine at as great a depth as the best improvisers, who speak the language.

It is interesting that we can enjoy music without being able to communicate in the language, because it is founded in feeling, and I guess the felt consonance versus dissonance is so elemental, it doesn't require the intense detailed knowledge necessary to understand a spoken language.

Sep. 24 2010 06:40 PM
dott

"Voices in my Head" no longer plays for "listen" or "downloads".
I always look forward to your next episode and go back and listen to your podcasts. Well done and interesting. Thank you.

Sep. 24 2010 08:25 AM

ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING!!!!
Sorry for the caps, but I have been studying (on my own) this kind of stuff for years and I love it when someone else does such a good job of presenting the issue. If anyone really wants to read a mind blowing theory that is directly related to this then please read The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Dr. Julian Jaynes. Great topic and great show folks!

Sep. 22 2010 01:25 PM
Dan from Eastern US

(disclaimer, I am not a linguist) 'Voices' opens with an interesting premise, but then how does it deal with the way deaf/mute think or communicate?

As an early childhood bilingualist, I have serious questions about the premise presented; I have experienced first-hand ideas which do not translate easily from one language to another, there are also false-cognates... as I get older, words fail me (it's funny, how acting out the idea with your hands helps the brain to remember the word).

I'd be very curious about what linguists would have to say about idea creation versus vocalization.

Still, a very interesting episode, to opens up a great conversation, and isn't that what learning is all about?

Sep. 20 2010 09:06 AM
jhamesoup from stanford, ca

yeah, see, this is what made me realize why i always sound so weird to myself when i hear myself recorded on tape. and now, when i say a sentence "in my head" and compare it to how that sentence sounds which i actually speak it, i am shocked by the discrepancy.

Sep. 20 2010 03:26 AM

I was delighted to hear this show on words. I have been ranting about language and consciousness for a long time. I like to tie in Helen Keller's experiences before she got language, and words for every thing, and how feral people never get language.

Words are memes. They exist in our collective consciousnesses.

Sep. 19 2010 07:32 PM
Paul Manacher from Baltimore

Your program is no lab. It's radio that's achieved its mission; i.e., THE best, most thought-provoking program on npr (on radio for that matter). "Words" inspired me to write but any of your shows would kindle the same kudos.
Don't ever stop production...

Paul B Baltimore (WAMU 88.5 DC)

Sep. 19 2010 07:52 AM
Allen Lewis from anacortes Wa.

Wow!! what a great show, I have been trying to convey emotion in music for years and have said in general music is tension and release. Your show today was great, music is so much in who we are as a people. The perfect pitch thing really got me, as a musician I have been at odds with that for ever.

Sep. 18 2010 05:22 PM
Joe

Of course kids can think before they have words. Just on the topic if you mean to imply they can think of content and subjects prior to voicing them, that's absolutely certain. Besides the anecdotal reference of learning a foreign language I have a vivid memory of being less than 2 years old, wandering around the house trying to explain something to my mother. I was trying to tell her I was all grown up and she didn't seem to understand me, because the only word I was able to form was "big." I didn't mean I was large, I was trying to tell her that I felt like an adult. In another instant that perspective vanished and I realized I had a lot more to go. :)

Sep. 17 2010 11:35 AM
Neal from San Francisco

I've thought a lot about how we learn all "Languages" and therefore learn to "Speak" in those dialects. As a visual artist, the way my brain works while painting is completely different than how it feels to write this post. In addition, while doing gymnastics (when younger) and say running know, the verbal side of my brain nearly or completely shuts down. What wasn't brought up in this episode is how the left brain is our verbal linguistic center. The right half controlling art, spatial, and abstract kinds of thought. While that is nothing new to most, the idea that you need to learn to speak with your right brain is as fundamental if not of greater significance to our development. Some dancers can watch an extremely long sequence and be able to perform it immediately. While the rest of us trip over our own feet. Learning to communicate in 2-D or 3-D art is a language, and any practitioner will attest that there is a moment when you switch your brain and begin to think visually, and things make sense. Very few artists can carry on a coherent conversation and paint at the same time. Similarly, you understand concept of what "Stop" means before you understand what the word "Stop" means. I believe most kids understand what a bright red octagon means before they grasp the words printed on it. Art however is a symbolic language that very few can think in. An earlier post related that perfect pitch in Chinese is 70%, why because they have developed that form of higher level thinking...or listening. Gymnastics, Dance, or other sports are a physical language of applied physics that very few can think in. This then ties into the RadioLab from a couple weeks ago where the "out of the box" thinking of Wayne Gretzky was examined. Gymnast Vitaly Scherbo or basketball great Michael Jordan would be other great examples of this as well.

Sep. 16 2010 03:43 PM
Chris from Warsaw, PL

From time to time I excercise thinking without using words. When I'm tired with endless and pointless internal narration, that is.
Thinking without words is much faster, more accurate. More genuine, true and pure I'd say. I'm surprised it's not a common view on a subject.

Sep. 16 2010 04:08 AM
MNavarro from TRC México

When I was a child sometimes as I went to sleep I would purposely imagine different voices of people I knew (family members, friends, teachers, etc.) repeating, one at a time, one single word, usually my name. I would concentrate in the voices and every now and then one of the voices would sound real, as if I were listening it with my ears rather than just imagining it. At this point I would stop since I'd be so amazed I could trick my mind into believing a voice inside my head was actually a voice outside it. I haven't been able to repeat this experience in the last few years.

Sep. 15 2010 03:56 PM
silverdrake from Maryland

Like Michael from VA, I also have pre-language memories. I knew that my sister loved horses before I had the words to describe them. I think words articulate meaning, but they aren't necessary to understand what a what a thing is, what it does, or how we feel. I spent a summer living with a family from another culture, and communicated very well with my host-mother without any shared language between us.

Sep. 14 2010 03:38 PM
sebastian from Foz do Iguaçu, Brazil

Oh, come on, any guy that can do some speed reading knows you *can* think without words just fine.

When you read that fast you don't spend time making the internal verbalization of what you read.

With some practice anyone can do it. And I promise you'll be thinking (on fire!).

Besides... animals that can't make symbolic associations can't think then?

Okay, so what about animals that *can* do symbolic associations? (a limited one if compared to humans). They would be doing what with their a-bit-less-complex brains?

Of course that language pushes thinking to
the next level but I feel like there was too much semantic stretching on this hypothesis.

Sep. 14 2010 02:34 PM
mpk from Earth

I think there is a two-way feedback between external language and thought in their development in humans.

There must be some thought which existed before the words were created. For example, it is difficult to believe and argue the word 'I' is first created then the meaning and concept thought. By the same argument all words are there because we (humans) first had the ideas. Words are meaningful because we have the meanings first. (An alternative is that a word and its meaning emerged simultaneously and only then we could have the thought about that idea. But I don't believe in this. The third case---a word existed first before we knew the meaning, is ridiculous).

Instead of asking how words form thought; I think it is more tractable and interesting to ask how words are created. After all, what is thought? (The way Vygotsky defines thought makes what he asserts necessarily true).

Vygotsky is not completely wrong either. Having the words allow us to think more complicated thought; like when I was thinking through what I write here. Without the words, the process would either be impossible or very inefficient.

Sep. 13 2010 11:57 AM
Bill in DC from DC

I'm surprised that they didn't really correlate the experience of the woman who lost access to her inner voice with the "sense of oneness with everything", "lost sense of self", "had a quiet mind", "didn't know where she ended and the world began", "felt inner joy and peace". These statements are "spiritual" statements, common to all of the worlds religions. They are also the same statements that you hear people use when describing their experiences under the influence of certain drugs, during meditation, during near death experiences and/or after certain seizures. Continued evidence that spiritual experiences are psychological phenomena that arise from wholly physical (either structural or electro-chemical) changes in the brain. This doesn't detract from the profundity of these experiences or especially from the benefits of them (peace, happiness, joy, access to your deepest and maybe clearest thinking, innovative connections between parts of your brain that might not connect and might yield fantastic wisdom). But it should give us all a shove away from mystical woo spiritualism and toward a new definition of spiritualism based in natural reality. Would the peace be any less peaceful, the joy any less joyful?

Sep. 12 2010 09:34 PM
2K from earth

An interesting topic, one that I have thought about before -- particularly when I am stuck in a conversation with someone who will not stop talking, or who talks much but there is no logic or conclusion to their words. Anyone who participates in any rapid activity such as sports or even speed chess understands that speech could not keep up with the pace of thoughts in these activities. And anyone involved in the creative process probably has felt the inspiration first and then had to translate the idea into words in order to describe it to others. Although speech probably does play a role in certain parts of intellectual development, somehow hearing impairment does not doom an individual to mental impairment. In the words of a great thinker, Descartes "I think therefore I am", not "I talk therefore I am".

Sep. 12 2010 12:22 AM
Annalisa

I'm an MA student and am studying Vygotsky. He's my hero. I'm afraid that the assertion that thinking without words is not thinking is not correct. I discussed this podcast with my advisor because I'm always thrilled when someone is using Vygotsky in novel ways. Unfortunately, Vygotsky is commonly misunderstood or taken out of context and this appears to be another instance.

I still get lost in the maze of interpretation of his works. It's easy to do. However, I believe a fundamental aspect of Vygotsky's theories on development is very dependent upon the dialectic. It is not that language forms thinking in some kind of linear progression, but (simply phrased by my advisor) that language and thinking are different systems. Underlying or traversing these two systems is a system of meaning. Thinking and language and meaning are all systems working off each other to create new thoughts, new meaning, new langauge, essentially generating new transformations in the systems themselves.

If we were to follow the assertions of the podcast, it suggests that the only way we think is via a verbal mechanism. Clearly, as some commentors have observed, this isn't the case. There are different other forms of thinking that are not verbal, such as visual thinking, kinesthetic thinking, spatial thinking, to name a few. To say that any of these aren't thinking is much like acknowledging your right side and not your left. Or to assert that seeing is more valuable than smelling or hearing.

I have noticed that verbal thinkers are biased to verbal thinking, because it is what they are good at or rather more aware of. I think this podcast is another example of that. No offense meant, just an observation.

Still, I'm always happy to hear about research that is based upon the work of Vygotsky, I just wish he was better understood. Maybe you could do a podcast on him. He's amazing. If you do, I can set you up with some amazing scholars who know the skinny. Of course... I am biased! :)

Sep. 11 2010 11:25 PM
Peter from Chino CA

The woman featured in a recent academy-award winning movie, who is a consultant for cattle slaughter houses, is autistic and says she thinks in images, not in words. She understands animals very well because they think in images also.

Sep. 11 2010 10:31 PM
Cate from San Jose CA

I am a teacher and I have, for the past 21 years worked with English Learners. Often times our students some from poverty and not only is their English not yet acquired, but their primary language is rudimentary. Could this mean that our kids are well served to receive explicit instruction in language and vocabulary and well as content? What about the primary language? It seems to me that developing the primary language as we do in bilingual classes will also help them to become more integrated thinkers.

Sep. 11 2010 08:52 PM
Topher from San Francisco, CA

A another perspective:

As a child, I struggled a lot with language. Specifically, I didn't start speaking until I was 3 and I didn't start reading until the 3rd grade. I didn't know it at the time, but the delay was a result of an auditory processing disorder: I couldn't tell the difference between similar sounds and I couldn't break words into sound-pieces, or phonemes. I remember being in tears one afternoon in kindergarten, with my teacher in disbelief that I couldn't hear the difference between "f" and "th." Imagine poor eye sight, except for language: everything's fuzzy. Still, learning other languages painfully difficult, as I strain to literally hear and reproduce the words.

I bring this up because of a possible side effect: I'm a profoundly visual thinker. My dreams are saturated with images and symbols. When I mediate, it's like watching a moving collage. The images are incredibly clear. As a child, I was naturally literate in the symbols and imagery used in books and film. I didn't know that all this had a name, semiotics, until I got to college. This kind of literacy often gets overlooked, but it's an incredibly valuable tool.

I reject the idea that we don't (or can't) think without words. The color red and the image of a cloud, for example, both have a lot of meaning without the sounds "red" and "cloud" attached to them. When I wake up from my dreams, I often realize my unconscious has used symbols to make sense of something I never would have thought of otherwise: the "language" of images is as foundational as the language of spoken words.

;-)

Topher

Sep. 11 2010 08:33 PM
Mike

A couple years back there was a news story about primates and how they differ from humans and I wonder if the real difference is in language.

The story involved how rapidly chimps can count (see a video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCy7M6ueSpE )

Whenever I try to count that fast I notice that I'm doing it via language... "one dot, two dots, three dots... " etc. And that takes time. But if I didn't have language would I be faster? As fast as that chimp? What about the adults in the story who don't have language? Firstly, do they have numbers? and Secondly, if they do, are they faster than "languaged" humans at counting and even better are they as fast (or faster) than the chimps in the video?

Think for a minute about the very beginning of the story about "il Defaso" and how he was able to sign back "hello my name is susan". I have to assume he's not seen sign before and that the hand gestures are fairly complicated... would a normal non-deaf person be able to "echo imitate" Susan's salutation? Do words get in the way of these memory/observation processes?

Sep. 11 2010 06:05 PM
Peggy from San Francisco

What is the title of the beautiful Bill Evans piece that was briefly played during this show?

Thanks

Sep. 11 2010 05:40 PM
Wendy from San Francisco

I understand that the one guest was using the word "thinking" in a specific way, but still I disagree with the idea that inner monologue IS thinking. Words are not thought. I would say that voices, language, words are tools and as adults we have so fully integrated these tools into our thinking it would seem there is no separation between cognition and language. Indeed they feed each other, but they are not one and the same.
I am one of those people with a noisy head. I call it the din. I think in a conversational format. I thought everyone did, to some extent. It is when the din is turned up beyond our tolerance level that it becomes an issue of discomfort, insomnia, aggravation. Living in a noisy world, medications that cause a speedy effect, coffee, adrenaline, stress can all aggravate the nerves which in turn aggravates the mind into chaotic thinking and a jumbled inner dialogue. But if I have control of my brain, as a tool, I can intuit beyond voice and words. And there is deeper thought that comes from instinct, direct sensation, not filtered into words for conversation. There is painting, perfume, song, dance, many different mediums of expression and creations that can be understood without words.

Sep. 11 2010 05:35 PM
shellee888 from oakland, ca

my son started talking at 10 months. he is 3 1/2 now. he has been using the spacial descriptions (left of the blue star) for a year. he started doing it spontaneously and I was shocked. he has also memorized all the star wars soundtracks and recognizes each theme by name.

i ate a lot of garbanzos.

Sep. 11 2010 04:52 PM
izzit from Seattle

Hope to hear you & Robert together again soon. You complement each other.

Sep. 11 2010 12:57 PM
Chris from United States

I believe practicing meditation, as well as yoga, does make a person more open to the general atmosphere. I've experienced hearing guiding voices here and there, specifically ones that have warned me before something bad happens; the same experience also happens to my mother. The voices, or voice specifically, have helped me to avoid automobile accidents as well as forewarning of job lay-offs sometimes 5-6 months in advance.

I was once meditating and heard a voice that stated "update your resume. First of the year". This incident happened in October. I thought it meant that I needed to update my resume the first of the year, literally, which I did. I took a week vacation the first week in January (and updated my resume), sent out my first resume on a Sunday, only to come into work the next day to find out our operations center was closing. So with that being said one also needs to be highly discerning when hearing voices.

Sep. 11 2010 01:06 AM
Thomas Dodson

Also, these ideas about the internal voice and cognition are often discussed, of course, in relation to Rene Descartes "Discourse on Method."

Poststructuralists further make the point that when one thinks--even a phrase like Descarte's "I am thinking therefore I am"--one is always already thinking in a language, that is within some system of meaning that pre-exists the speaker and in some sense is out of his control.

Psychoanalysis also reminds us that conscious subjectivity isn't the only game in town.

I could be floating along in my internal monologue and instead of thinking "I think therefore I am," I may think "I wink therefore I am," and wonder why on Earth I thought that.

Perhaps I took unconscious note of someone winking at me earlier in the week, perhaps the wink or the desire that gesture inspired in me was considered inappropriate or threatening to my conscious sense of who I am or should be and so my conscious mind repressed it, sending it packing off to the unconscious. It didn't, couldn't stay there forever, though, and managed to irrupt again in my inner, conscious discourse.

Empirical science has lots of interesting questions to pose for us about our subjectivity, but humanist approaches like philosophy and psychoanalysis are none too shabby as well.

Sep. 10 2010 04:36 PM
Thomas Dodson from Boston

I was very interested in the gentleman who mentioned hearing voices that cautioned him against taking certain actions.

It reminded me of Socrates, actually, who made reference to a guiding internal voice that he called his "daemonion."

In the Apology, he says: "This sign I have had ever since I was a child. The sign is a voice which comes to me and always forbids me to do something which I am going to do, but never commands me to do anything."

Sep. 10 2010 04:27 PM
Anti-m from PDX, OR

I seem to be getting the dreaded 404 when trying to listen or d/l this particular podcast?

Edit: The d/l link is pointing to this page:

http://audio.wnyc.org/radiolab_podcast/radiolab_podcast10voices.mp3

...where it appears there is nobody home

Sep. 10 2010 03:03 PM
Anti-m from PDX, OR

I seem to be getting the dreaded 404 when trying to listen or d/l this particular podcast?

Sep. 10 2010 03:02 PM
Was Once from California

I have a schizophrenic sister, and I know how much "the voices in her head" propel her to make irrational choices. Just because we thought it, does not mean we have to act on it.
In my meditation I have learn not to become attached to these random thoughts...within an hour they are non-existant.

And aside..
Are there people born deaf that are schizophrenics?

Sep. 10 2010 01:48 AM

An interesting idea that I feel challenges Vygotsky's theory is how deaf people think. Then one may argue that they communicate through sign language and see the images of sign language in their head as their thoughts. What about someone born blind and deaf? Surely, they have thoughts as we do.

Sep. 10 2010 12:00 AM
JW from Maine

I have also experienced the hearing of voices at certain stages of meditation or similarly deep relaxation. The voices are usually barely audible conversational gibberish. It's tempting to think I'm so relaxed that I can hear the faintest of sound-waves from the neighborhood, but my rational side has always presumed the voices spring from the same same source as my dreams. Aleister Crowley refers to this phenomenon in several of his works discussing meditation and yoga; he likened it to the "atmospherics" heard by the wireless telegraph operators of his era.

Sep. 09 2010 08:54 PM
Paul

I was just listening to the pod cast, and it brought up how eerily familiar Jad's voice was the first time I heard it. Then I realized his speech patterns bear a slight resemblance to Ira Glass's. Separated at birth?

Sep. 09 2010 05:49 PM
Strigose Palmate

Before I took up meditation practice I must say I heard a fair amount of "voices" at the end of each day. It was like a tape recorder playing back all the conversations I heard. It wasn't audible to the point of being frightening or disturbing, but it was there. After a few years of my meditation practice my "thoughts" are much more economical and spare, and I would argue much more potent. Now at the end of each day I here mostly silence. This is a blessing and a wonderful place where creative energy flows from. And it doesn't need to be contained in so called "thoughts".

Sep. 09 2010 04:30 PM
Eamonn from Dublin, Ireland

Hey Victor from Dublin, Ireland. Eamonn from Dublin, Ireland here!

I would say that the issue of whether words are simply self-sufficient picture referents of objects in the real world is a much more complex issue than you maybe think. Philosophers from Wittgenstein through to Derrida (as well as before and after) have struggled with this idea for some time now. And increasingly the consensus has come to turn to the idea of words as relying much more on a system from which they draw/subtract their meaning (ie. that words do not "stand-in" independently as much as they differentiate from each other within an entire linguistic world of rules and symbols).

I would say this concept in itself does lend itself to a more secular understanding of the "wholeness and unity" of the non-linguistic experience that was outlined by one of the ladies who spoke about suffering a stroke in the original "Words" episode.

I would also suspect that it is precisely this general intellectual shift that has taken place over the course of the last half century within a number of "soft" human and philosophical disciplines that has prompted the type of "hard" scientific enquiry into the relationship between thoughts and language that the show is highlighting.

Cheers,
E.

Sep. 09 2010 02:41 PM
Fletch from Telluride

Safe to say that speachless animals don't think then?
What is the brain function of recognizing a threat, lunch, a parent etc..? What of a baby that thinks a lemon looks tasty, and the wtf thought that follows? Not called thought?

Sep. 09 2010 01:25 PM
AK from MA

When recently playing with multi-track recording with my 6 year old daughter, I was very surprised when pitch-shifting her voice down a bit, that her voice sounded almost indistinguishable from my own not lowered. I wonder, after hearing this Short, if children who heard their own voices lowered would believe them to be the voice of a parent? Would this happen only after a certain age when they have internalized their own voice?

Sep. 09 2010 11:42 AM
rlfan

I would be interested in a show on the speed of thought. How could it be measured? Is it innate or ties in with who teaches you the thinking method as touched on in this episode. Is quick whit just the ability to process thoughts quickly or on different levels? Why when talking with some people do you want to finish their thoughts before they can speak them? Just thoughts.

Sep. 09 2010 10:26 AM
k not K

This was fascinating. Anyone else immediately start thinking Deleuze & Guattari when the subject of being unable to form thoughts on one's own, and of thoughts coming from a crowd, came up?

Sep. 09 2010 09:24 AM
Victor from Dublin, Ireland

has anybody heard of Temple Grandin? shes maintained that shes a visual thinker and doesnt think in words whatsoever... so i wouldnt completely rule out the possibility of thinking without words...

cause afterall, arent words just a reference to an idea or an object...
and arent images a reference to the same?

Think of their goat on the cows back t-shirt.

Sep. 09 2010 03:32 AM
Bob

I've had a ridiculously large amount of voices pop into my head over the past 6 years. About since I turned 22 or so...

I'm perfectly healthy, although I do drink a lot of alcohol, so I consider the audiation as an effect caused by plays on the same portions of the brain affected by temporal lobe epilepsy.

The voices happen mostly when I'm on the verge of falling asleep or in a semi-conscious state in the morning, so I consider them relatively normal. With a few exceptions, there's never been anything reoccurring or distinct sounding, but I have an enormous collection (at least, I think) of the sayings in a notebook. I'm a musician, too, so I sometimes dream fully composed songs with lyrics.

I've used all these experiences as jumping off points for songwriting and poetry, in addition to just trying to understand my subconscious, which is insanely more intelligent than I am :)

Sep. 08 2010 11:00 PM
science-interested but not a scientist

I'm very curious about auditory hallucinations in schizophrenics so tried the link above. Wah, access to more than an abstract of the requires a Lancet subscription. (1999 Johns/McGuire) to require a Lancet subscription. I found a 2008 study that cites the 1999 one http://schizophreniabulletin.oxfordjournals.org/content/36/4/740.full?sid=1d6acfbf-621e-4aeb-9e3b-e52b35038f66 that seems to conclude the same thing. Among all you RadioLab listeners, I wonder if there's someone who might be able to provide a link that's written more in layman's terms.

Sep. 08 2010 08:13 PM
Joshua DaPonte from Providence, RI

I wonder how early students start to think (vocalize internally). In music we call this audiation, when you hear music in your head without it physically sounding. Though it's difficult to prove, there are ways to tell if you're audiating. You should do a show about audiation.

Sep. 08 2010 04:44 PM
Michael from Va.

@ sam
I have a few memories from before I had much developed language (before 2yo, maybe 18 months or so); at least I believe I do. If you are interested, the clearest one is composed of a combination of emotions and scenes (the living room, a block being forced into the wrong hole, that kind off thing). Anyway, each scene represented a concept that was defined and given context by a feeling; for example, living room = a really vast expanse, huge.

Sep. 08 2010 03:08 PM
Mathieu from Montreal

@sam

not simply impulses, but intuition.

Sep. 08 2010 11:07 AM
sam

I have always pondered this idea... what does thought look like without language? I agree, no words, no thinking. just impulses.

Sep. 08 2010 10:42 AM

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