An Interesting Thing about Reading

You know how when you read something silently to yourself, there's a voice in your head that reads the words effectively "out loud" in the safety of your brain?

There's a word for that.

It's called "subvocalization" and it's something that nearly everyone does. Let me tell you why.

I recently stumbled across a YouTube video that explained why music without lyrics is better for background noise when focusing on a task that requires concentration, such as studying for a test. (AKA, "the Mozart Effect.")

In the video, the YouTuber explained that there are two sections of the brain linked to language processing - one that handles producing words (Broca's), and one that handles understanding words that are given to your brain from the outside (Wernicke's).

These two portions of the brain can't work at the same time without potentially overloading the whole shebang and losing track of whatever you were trying to do. This is why when you're trying to write an essay and someone is talking to you, you end up with random words from your friend's rant about My Hero Academia in the middle of your explanation of why Mozart was a horrible role model. (Not that this has ever happened to me. Don't be silly.)

This is why it's hard to concentrate on reading the text in front of you when your roommate is blasting Taylor Swift in the next room - not because Taylor Swift is inherently distracting, but because the words in the music are louder than the subvocalized voice in your head. (Also a good way to explain why some people can't stand subtitles or closed captions on the TV screen during a movie - because reading the words prevents them from listening to the dialogue.)

Now here's an additional thought for you - how fast you read to yourself is dictated by the speed/quality of your subvocalized voice.

This is why it's possible for people to learn how to read faster.

This is also why some people are naturally faster readers than others.

My subvocalized voice reads at almost exactly the same speed as my actual voice, so reading to myself or out loud are functionally the same. They take the same amount of time, and result in the same experience for me.

A friend of mine reads much faster to herself than she does out loud - I am under the impression this is pretty standard for most people. But that doesn't mean that she doesn't subvocalize the words she's reading. It just means her mental voice speaks faster than the one she uses to communicate with me.

So next time you read something to yourself, I want you to think about that mental voice that reads the words to you in your brain. What does it "sound" like, how fast does it read, and does it have the qualities you like to hear, or is it something you would prefer never to reveal?

Theory: People who don't like to read may have a negative reaction to the subvocalization they experience when reading.

#Reading #Psychology #Anatomy


Here's the video where I learned about this stuff. It's fascinating. ]

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All