Did ya know that?

Do you vocalize?

I didn’t think much of vocalisation and sub-vocalisation too much until I realised that not everyone is same in this aspect (shoot me). Now that I do know that, let me tell you too (if you know already, well, eh).

First off, let me clear out what these two things mean. Whenever we are reading something then the Wernicke’s area in our parietal lobe (some say superior temporal) is involved in converting the written information into thoughts (isn’t it cool I know that? Yeah, bio is my bae). Meanwhile, our mouths may be involved in doing something else and we may not even know it. Some of us speak out the words as we read, which is vocalisation and some of us appear to speak them out in our mind, which is called sub-vocalisation.

If anyone has told you to shush while you were reading then you probably do vocalise. Ask someone to notice you unknown to yourself while you are reading. They’ll be able to tell you if you were vocalising. You may have noticed it yourself as well. Now, knowing if you sub-vocalise is a bit more difficult. See, sub-vocalisation is when you have that voice inside of you that says the words as you read them. So while you aren’t actually speaking them, your mind is speaking them; you aren’t actually reading it fully but hearing it.

Now why worry ourselves with this? It is because not vocalising or not sub-vocalising not only mean you can read with more speed but that you can also comprehend the text better. In fact, most speed readers neither vocalise nor sub-vocalise. I can read at only 515 words per minute with a comprehension of 79% (speed readers read upwards of 1000 wpm with an efficiency of 85%) and I do not vocalise. I almost never sub-vocalise either. Our brain has a network of nerve fibres in the medulla called as RAS (reticular activating system) that allows only useful stimuli to enter the brain so that it isn’t overcrowded. For instance, when you’re feeling itchy and you slap that area forcefully, you’ll feel the pain but not the itch, the itch hasn’t disappeared, it’s just RAS at work. Similarly, while reading, if you vocalise or sub-vocalise, you won’t realise it but still be doing it.

So, do you vocalise? Or sub-vocalise? And does it ever disturb your peers in case of vocalisation?


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