Guest Speaker Dr. Bo Yao from the University of Manchester 7 Oct, 1-2:30


Speaker: Dr. Bo Yao

Title: Inner Voice Experiences in Processing of Direct and Indirect Speech

Date: Wednesday 7 October, 1-2:30 pm

Venue: Seminar Room B – AS7-01-17 (Shaw Building)


In verbal communication, direct speech (e.g., Mary said: “I love this dress!”) provides vivid depictions of the reported speaker’s voice whereas indirect speech (e.g., Mary said [that] she loved that dress) provides mere descriptions of what was said. In silent reading, however, the representational consequences of this vividness distinction remain unclear. Although many of us share the intuition of an “inner voice”, particularly during silent reading of direct speech quotations, there has been little empirical confirmation of this experience so far. Using speech analysis, brain imaging and eye tracking, we show that readers (with normal hearing) spontaneously engage in mental simulations of audible-speech like representations (or to hear an “inner voice”) during silent reading of direct speech, and to a much lesser extent during silent reading of indirect speech. In contrast, deaf readers do not appear to mentally distinguish between direct and indirect speech in silent reading. The implications of our results are discussed in relation to grounded cognition and the implicit prosody hypothesis. 

About the Speaker:

Dr Bo Yao is a lecturer at School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, UK. He received his BSc in Biology from Xiamen University, China in 2008, followed by his PhD in Psychology from the University of Glasgow, UK in 2012 working with Professor Pascal Belin and Dr Christoph Scheepers. He then worked as a research fellow at the University of Kent before joining the University of Manchester as a lecturer in 2013. His research interest lies in neuroscience and psychology of language and communication. His recent work focused on inner speech using a combination of acoustic analysis, eye tracking, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG) methods. Outside work, he organises Café Scientifique talks in the Manchester area and an is active participant in science communication.


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