A new study has looked at a possible brain mechanism that could explain how we hear the inner voice in the absence of actual sound.
In two experiments, researcher Mark Scott of the University of British Columbia found evidence that a brain signal called corollary discharge – a signal that helps us distinguish the sensory experiences we produce ourselves from those produced by external stimuli – plays an important role in our experiences of internal speech.
Corollary discharge is a kind of predictive signal generated by the brain that helps to explain, for example, why other people can tickle us but we can’t tickle ourselves.
The signal predicts our own movements and effectively cancels out the tickle sensation. And the same mechanism plays a role in how our auditory system processes speech.
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