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The 'Loudness' of Our Thoughts Affects How We Judge External Sounds ( 35

The "loudness" of our thoughts -- or how we imagine saying something -- influences how we judge the loudness of real, external sounds, a team of researchers from NYU Shanghai and NYU has found. From a report: Its study, titled "Imagined Speech Influences Perceived Loudness of Sound" and published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, offers new insights into the nature of brain activity. The research project was conducted by Tian Xing and Bai Fan from NYU Shanghai with, David Poeppel and Teng Xiangbin from NYU, and Ding Nai from Zhejiang University. "Our 'thoughts' are silent to others -- but not to ourselves, in our own heads -- so the loudness in our thoughts influences the loudness of what we hear," says Poeppel, a professor of psychology and neural science. Using an imagery-perception repetition paradigm, the team found that auditory imagery will decrease the sensitivity of actual loudness perception, with support from both behavioural loudness ratings and human electrophysiological (EEG and MEG) results.
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The 'Loudness' of Our Thoughts Affects How We Judge External Sounds

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  • by ErstO ( 1696262 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @03:02PM (#56177303)
    When the voices in my head starts yelling at me it sounds like everyone is yelling and they don't stop until I put down the baseball bat.
    • When the voices in my head starts yelling at me it sounds like everyone is yelling and they don't stop until I put down the baseball bat.

      If you are a professional baseball player at bat, it's normal.... Otherwise, If you're Facebook friends with Harley Quinn and have a bat man after you, you need professional help.... (grin)

  • by davide marney ( 231845 ) <davide@marney.netmedia@org> on Friday February 23, 2018 @03:16PM (#56177373) Journal

    I once spent three days on Smith Island, the quietest spot in the Eastern US, to see if an extended time of quiet would help soothe my stress. No cars. No stores. Just the fishing fleet leaving pre-dawn and returning at dusk. In between, nothing but the sound of the surrounding Chesapeake Bay and the wind on the willows by the shore.

    Every day I was there, I could detect fainter and fainter sounds. On my last day, as I was sitting on the front porch staring at the water, I noticed a very distinct hum. I looked all over for the offender, only to discover that it was the electric motor in the ceiling fan overhead.

    I don't think that my physical hearing senses became sharper, obviously. I think what happened is that my mind was able to perceive them because they weren't competing with all the other sounds I was filling my head with. I can well imagine that pre-loading your perceptions with internal talk will make you less observant of external sounds, just as this study shows.

    Oh, and the rest cure worked really, really well. I try to get at least a couple of days of complete silence at least once a year now. Very restorative.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    >"Our 'thoughts' are silent to others -- but not to ourselves"

    I was surprised to learn that people actually "hear" their own voices in their head. I don't hear anything - my thinking has no language associated with it, mostly just visual imagery. If I am not around people, I don't have any spoken language at all that day. I grew up with two spoken languages in my house, and I was coding at a very young age.

    Anyone else here like this? I can't imagine what it would be like to hear myself think!

    • As a musician and an occasional songwriter, I think a lot in terms of sounds and phrases. However, I also try to avoid saying things in my mind when I think of more abstract problems, because it would limit the process a lot. Languages are serial protocols and as such very useful for conveying messages to others; putting a complex idea into a short phrase is an interesting problem in itself. But you wouldn't use RS232 within your CPU.

      This has been particularly interesting in math studies, mostly writing

    • by Quirkz ( 1206400 )

      There's a surprisingly broad range of mental tools that people can have or not have. I recently learned about aphantasia, the inability to create pictures in the mind. Folks who have that tend to almost exclusively work with the words, since they don't have pictures. It sounds like you might be on the opposite end of the spectrum, heavy on the pictures and short on the words.

  • by VeryFluffyBunny ( 5037285 ) on Friday February 23, 2018 @03:57PM (#56177719)

    [ all bold caps* ]...tells me that when I think out loud all the time, it can be distressing to those around me and that I should be more considerate, especially in confined spaces, like elevators, washrooms, and aircraft. That way, I won't get any more restraining orders. [ /all bold caps ]

    * /. wouldn't let me post this comment in its original all bold caps form. Spoilsports! :(

  • I have Tinnitus so bad from being around jet engines and explosions I can't even hear my thoughts most of the time.

    I have to read them.

    It is like being 15 feet from an idling jet all the time.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Could you write your comment in ALL CAPS? We can't read you because of your loud tinnitus.

  • I wonder if this has any ramifications for misophonia (the hatred of particular sounds) or hyperacusis (increased sensitivity to sounds)? If I've understood the summary correctly, it leads one to think that some kind of CBT, meditation or similar that might control or reduce the volume of our internal voice might go some way to reducing sensitivity to external unwanted sound.

  • +2 to 3 dB across the spectrum as measured by my wife the speech therapist and a bunch of other nerds back in high school. I've also been called out for mumbling ever since kindergarten.

    A few years ago I had this epiphany that they might be connected. I can often hear conversations across a room, so I assume that my own speaking can also be heard at a similar distance, so I keep my voice down. Of course I can't be heard by most people, but those I'm speaking with think I'm mumbling. I've been working on th

Computer programmers do it byte by byte.