A study by New York University’s Department of Psychology has revealed that more than 80 percent of people hear an ‘inner voice’ while they read.

The study, led by NYU Professor of Psychology Ruvanee Vilhauer, analysed links between the “inner reading voice” and auditory hallucinations.

Vilhauer evaluated 160 answers from an online survey to examine the human reading experience for a study published in the journal Psychosis.

While 80 percent of participants reported hearing the inner voice, 11 percent said they did not, and several respondents claimed their ability to hear the voice was dependant on various factors, such as their interest in the text at hand. Some reported hearing their own voice, while others stated the voice can take on a range of characters, including those of family and friends in emails, for example.

“Results indicated that many individuals report routinely experiencing inner reading voices (IRVs), which often have the auditory qualities of overt speech, such as recognisable identity, gender, pitch, loudness and emotional tone,” writes Vilhauer.

“IRVs were sometimes identified as the readers’ own voices, and sometimes as the voices of other people.

“Some individuals reported that IRVs were continuous with audible thoughts. Both controllable and uncontrollable IRVs were reported.”

The study confirms that the IRV forms the basis for auditory hallucinations, and may well be liked to people’s “imaginary vividness” and voice hearing in those not reporting mental health issues.

Vilhauer claims her study is one of the first to investigate the inner voice phenomenon, citing the assumption that the experience is normal as the reason why psychologists have failed to question it thus far.

Additional reporting by The Independent.

Image via Librestock.

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