In my 2003 SCR paper “Inner speech and conscious experience” (LINK) I put forward the notion that we most often need to talk to ourselves in order to understand who we are. That is, inner speech is frequently required to access self-information and to gradually build a self- concept. To illustrate, let’s imagine that you want to reflect on an abdominal pain you are currently experiencing. It is very likely that you will engage in an internal monologue, thinking “Why is (...) it that my belly hurts? I feel cramps... Ha! I get it—I skipped breakfast...” You could go on and also notice: “I’ve been missing breakfast often lately... I tend to sleep in, I don’t eat breakfast, and by noon I’m starving... And I didn’t go to the gym as often as I should have... This is bad—I’m getting _lazy_...” Here the adjective “lazy” constitutes the conclusion that you have drawn from your inner monologue; it may then become a more or less permanent part of your self-concept. (shrink)
While this article by Waldman and Newberg is correct in its main message, it is unfortunately fraught with inaccuracies and problems. To illustrate: (1) the statement that “Inner speech is also associated with lower levels of psychological distress” is invalid as a wide array of distressing psychological disorders are associated with distorted (e.g., ruminative) inner speech activity.
Summary.Ã¢â¬â Recent empirical work in social cognition suggests that in building a self-concept people make inferences about themselves based on overt behavior or private thoughts and feelings. This article addresses the question of how, exactly, people make these inferences about themselves and raises the possibility that they do so through self-talk. It is proposed that the more on talks to oneself to construct a selfimage, the more this image will gain coherence and sophistication. A correlational study was conducted to explore (...) the relation between richness of the self-concept (using the W-A-Y) and natural disposition to talk to oneself (using a pilot questionnaire). A moderate but positive correlation of .30 is obtained. The article concludes with clinical implications. (shrink)
Self-awareness represents the capacity of becoming the object of one’s own attention. In this state one actively identifies, processes, and stores information about the self. This paper surveys the self-awareness literature by emphasizing definition issues, measurement techniques, effects and functions of self-attention, and antecedents of self-awareness. Key self-related concepts (e.g., minimal, reflective consciousness) are distinguished from the central notion of self-awareness. Reviewed measures include questionnaires, implicit tasks, and self-recognition. Main effects and functions of self-attention consist in selfevaluation, escape from the (...) self, amplification of one's subjective experience, increased self-knowledge, self-regulation, and inferences about others' mental states (Theory-of-Mind). A neurocognitive and socioecological model of self-awareness is described in which the role of face-to-face interactions, reflected appraisals, mirrors, media, inner speech, imagery, autobiographical knowledge, and neurological structures is underlined. (shrink)
The present review of literature surveys two main issues related to self-referential processes: (1) Where in the brain are these processes located, and do they correlate with brain areas uniquely specialized in self-processing? (2) What are the empirical and theoretical links between inner speech and self-awareness? Although initial neuroimaging attempts tended to favor a right hemispheric view of selfawareness, more recent work shows that the brain areas which support self-related processes are located in both hemispheres and are not uniquely activated (...) during self-reflective tasks. Furthermore, self-awareness at least partially relies on internal speech. An activation of Broca's area (which is known to sustain inner speech) is observed in a significant number of brain-imaging studies of self-reflection. Loss of inner speech following brain damage produces self-awareness deficits. Inner speech most likely can internally reproduce social mechanisms leading to self-awareness. Also, the process of self-reflection can be seen as being a problem-solving task, and self-talk as being a cognitive tool the individual uses to effectively work on the task. It is noted that although a large body of knowledge already exists on self-awareness, little is known about individual differences in dispositional self-focus and types of self-attention (e.g., rumination vs. self-reflection). (shrink)
Little is know about factors that influence the development of public self-consciousness. One potential factor is exposure to audiences: being repeatedly aware of one's object status could create a high disposition to focus on public self-aspects. To explore this hypothesis public self-consciousness was assessed in two groups of subjects: 62 professors and actors (high exposure to audiences) and 39 people without audience experience. Analysis show that significant differences exist for public self-consciousness in men only. Also, history of frequent exposure to (...) audience is significantly but weakly correlated with high public self-consciousness in men. This supports previous observations indicating that self-consciousness seems to develop differently for men and women. (shrink)
Szmimary.—The present report investigated the question of how individual differences in self-consciousness devdop. Rimé and LeBon proposed that high self-consciousness follows a history of frequent exposure to selffocusing stimuli, i.e., mirrors, audiences, audio and video devices, and cameras. To explore this hypothesis private and public self-consciousness and past exposure to self-focusing stimuli were assessed in 438 subjects. Analysis indicated that history of frequent exposure to self-focusing stimuli is significantly but weakly related to high private self-consciousness in men and to high (...) public self-consciousness in women. This supports previous observations suggesting that the routes to the development of selfconsciousness seem to differ for the two sexes. (shrink)
Inner speech represents the activity of talking to oneself in silence. It can be assessed with questionnaires, sampling methods, and electromyographic recordings of articulatory movements. Inner speech has been linked to thought processes and self-awareness. Private speech (speech-for-self emitted aloud by children) serves an important self-regulatory function. The frequency of private speech follows an inverted-U relation with age, peaking at 3-4 years of age and disappearing at age 10. Social and inner speech share a common neurological basis: Broca’s area. Dysfunctional (...) self-talk is known to mediate many pathological conditions; negative selfverbalizations have a more significant debilitating impact than positive ones. (shrink)
Fame -- what an alluring status! Being adulated by millions of people who will instantly recognize you wherever you go; being immensely wealthy; having countless privileges -- eating in the best restaurants, meeting other important personalities at huge parties, flying in your own private jet; having your opinion always solicited and cherished; Oprah Winfrey wanting you on her show. That must be great!
There is little doubt that animals are ―conscious‖. Animals hunt prey, escape predators, explore new environments, eat, mate, learn, feel, and so forth. If one defines consciousness as being aware of external events and experiencing mental states such as sensations and emotions (Natsoulas, 1978), then gorillas, dogs, bears, horses, pigs, pheasants, cats, rabbits, snakes, magpies, wolves, elephants, and lions, to name a few creatures, clearly qualify. The contentious issue rather is: Do these animals know that they are perceiving an external (...) environment and experiencing internal events? Are animals self-conscious? Recent attempts at understanding animal consciousness (e.g., Edelman & Seth, 2009) agree that non-human animals most probably possess ―primary‖ (or ―minimal‖) consciousness. But these views also argue that unlike humans animals lack many (but not all) elements that make up higher-order consciousness—the capacity to self-reflect on the contents of primary consciousness. In this chapter I will aim at offering a more elaborate picture of this position. I will present detailed information on what is meant by ―higher-order consciousness‖—i.e., selfawareness. I will suggest that some dimensions of self-awareness (e.g., self-recognition, metacognition, mental time travel) may be observed in several animals, but that numerous additional aspects (e.g., self-rumination, emotion awareness) seem to be absent. Some other self-related processes, such as Theory-of Mind, have been identified in animals, but not as the full-fledged versions found in humans. I will postulate that these differences in levels of selfawareness between humans and animals may be attributable to one distinctive feature of human experience: the ability to engage in inner speech. (shrink)
In her 2006 book ‘‘My Stroke of Insight” Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor relates her experience of suffering from a left hemispheric stroke caused by a congenital arteriovenous malformation which led to a loss of inner speech. Her phenomenological account strongly suggests that this impairment produced a global self-awareness deficit as well as more specific dysfunctions related to corporeal awareness, sense of individuality, retrieval of autobiographical memories, and self-conscious emotions. These are examined in details and corroborated by numerous excerpts from Taylor’s (...) book. Ó 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (shrink)
Merker’s definition of consciousness excludes self-reflective thought, making his proposal for decorticate consciousness not particularly groundbreaking. He suggests that brainstem sites are neglected in current theories of consciousness. This is so because broader definitions of consciousness are used. Split-brain data show that the cortex is important for full-blown consciousness; also, behaviors exhibited by hydranencephaly patients and decorticated rats do not seem to require reflective consciousness.
Quite a few recent models are rapidly introducing new concepts describing diﬀerent levels of consciousness. This situation is getting confusing because some theorists formulate their models without making reference to existing views, redundantly adding complexity to an already diﬃcult problem. In this paper, I present and compare nine neurocognitive models to highlight points of convergence and divergence. Two aspects of consciousness seem especially important: perception of self in time and complexity of self-representations. To this I add frequency of self-focus, amount (...) of self-related information, and accuracy of self-knowledge. Overall, I conclude that many novel concepts (e.g., reﬂective, primary, core, extended, recursive, and minimal consciousness) are useful in helping us distinguish between delicate variations in consciousness and in clarifying theoretical issues that have been intensely debated in the scientiﬁc literature—e.g., consciousness in relation to mirror self-recognition and language. Ó 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. (shrink)
been recently proposed (Morin, 2003; 2004). The model takes into account most known mechanisms and processes leading to self-awareness, and examines their multiple and complex interactions. Inner speech is postulated to play a key-role in this model, as it establishes important connections between many of its ele- ments. This paper first reviews past and current references to a link between self-awareness and inner speech. It then presents an analysis of the nature of the relation between these two concepts. It is (...) suggested that inner speech can inter- nally reproduce and expand social and physical (ecological) sources of self- awareness. Inner speech can also create a psychological distance between the self and mental events it experiences (thus facilitating self-observation) it can act as a problem-solving device where the self represents the problem and self-information the solution, and can label aspects of one’s inner life that would otherwise be difficult to objectively perceive. Empirical evidence supporting the role of inner speech in self-awareness is also presented. (shrink)
In the past, researchers have focused mainly on the effects and consequences of self-awareness; however, they have neglected a more basic issue pertaining to the specific mechanisms that initiate and sustain self-perception. The author presents a model of self-awareness that proposes the existence of 3 sources of self-information. First, the social milieu includes early face-to-face interactions, self-relevant feedback, a social comparison mechanism that leads to perspective taking, and audiences. Second, contacts with objects and structures in the physical environment foster self–world (...) differentiation in infants; this environment also contains self-focusing and reflecting stimuli, such as mirrors and video cameras. Third, the self can develop bodily awareness through proprioception and can reflect on itself using imagery and inner speech. Furthermore, self-awareness is mainly mediated by the prefrontal lobes. The author establishes various links among these different neurological, social, ecological, and cognitive elements of the model. (shrink)
Quite a few recent models are rapidly introducing new concepts describing diﬀerent levels of consciousness. This situ- ation is getting confusing because some theorists formulate their models without making reference to existing views, redun- dantly adding complexity to an already diﬃcult problem. In this paper, I present and compare nine neurocognitive models to highlight points of convergence and divergence. Two aspects of consciousness seem especially important: perception of self in time and complexity of self-representations. To this I add frequency of (...) self-focus, amount of self-related informa- tion, and accuracy of self-knowledge. Overall, I conclude that many novel concepts (e.g., reﬂective, primary, core, extend- ed, recursive, and minimal consciousness) are useful in helping us distinguish between delicate variations in consciousness and in clarifying theoretical issues that have been intensely debated in the scientiﬁc literature—e.g., consciousness in rela- tion to mirror self-recognition and language. (shrink)
Imagine that scientists have been successful at designing a drug that “freezes” brain areas producing our internal monologue. After taking the drug you can’t talk to yourself anymore. Every other mental activity is fine, but it’s now total silence in your head. Not a word. What would happen? What would it be like?
Where is the self located in the brain? This is a question that has intrigued philosophers and scientists for quite some time. Four centuries ago, the French philosopher René Descartes thought that the self resided in the pineal gland, a small structure centrally positioned in the lower brain.
In this commentaryI evaluate the claim made byKeenan, Nelson, OÕConnor, and Pascual-Leone (2001) that since self-recognition results from right hemispheric activity, self-awareness too is likely to be produced by the activity of the same hemisphere. This reasoning is based on the assumption that self-recognition represents a valid operationalization of self-awareness; I present two views that challenge this rationale. Keenan et al. also support their claim with published evidence relating brain activityand self-awareness; I closelyexamine their analysis of one speciﬁc review of (...) literature and conclude that it appears to be biased. Finally, recent research suggests that inner speech (which is associated with left hemispheric activity) is linked to self-awareness—an observation that further casts doubt on the existence of a right hemispheric self-awareness. Ó 2002 Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved. (shrink)
In this commentary I use recent empirical evidence and theoretical analyses concerning the importance of language and the meaning of self-recognition to reevaluate the claim that the right mute hemisphere in commissurotomized patients possesses a full consciousness. Preliminary data indicate that inner speech is deeply linked to self-awareness; also, four hypotheses concerning the crucial role inner speech plays in self-focus are presented. The legitimacy of self-recognition as a strong operationalization of self-awareness in the right hemisphere is also questioned on the (...) basis that it might rather tap a preexisting body awareness having little to do with an access to mental events. I conclude with the formulation of an alternative interpretation of commissurotomy according to self-awareness — a “complete” one in the left hemisphere and a “primitive” one in the right hemisphere. (shrink)
This article raises the question of how we acquire self-information through self-talkÃ¢â¬â i.e., of how self-talk mediates self-awareness. It is first suggested that two social mechanisms leading to self-awareness could be reproduced by self-talk: engaging in dialogues with ourselves, in which we talk to fictive persons, would permit an internalization of others' perspectives; and addressing comments to ourselves about ourselves, as others do toward us, would allow an acquisition of self-information. Secondly, it is proposed..
Sttrrtmory.Ã¢â¬â It has been suggested recently that self-awareness is cognitively mediated by inner speech and that this hypothesis could be tested by using the private speech paradigm. This paper describes a study in which the creation of a state of self-awareness was attempted in children to test the viability of a research strategy based on private speech and used to explore the hypothesis of a link between selfawareness and inner speech, and to test directly this hypothesis by comparing the incidence (...) of private speech in self-aware and control conditions. 32 children were asked to evaluate the attractiveness of pictures when in front of a mirror (a widely used self-focusing stimulus) and with no mirror. Reliably more favorable ratings of the images.. (shrink)