The brain's conversation with itself: Neural substrates of dialogic inner speech

Ben Alderson-Day*, Susanne Weis, Simon McCarthy-Jones, Peter Moseley, David Smailes, Charles Fernyhough

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    52 Citations (Scopus)
    41 Downloads (Pure)


    Inner speech has been implicated in important aspects of normal and atypical cognition, including the development of auditory hallucinations. Studies to date have focused on covert speech elicited by simple word or sentence repetition, while ignoring richer and arguably more psychologically significant varieties of inner speech. This study compared neural activation for inner speech involving conversations ('dialogic inner speech') with single-speaker scenarios ('monologic inner speech'). Inner speech-related activation differences were then compared with activations relating to Theory-of-Mind (ToM) reasoning and visual perspective-taking in a conjunction design. Generation of dialogic (compared with monologic) scenarios was associated with a widespread bilateral network including left and right superior temporal gyri, precuneus, posterior cingulate and left inferior and medial frontal gyri. Activation associated with dialogic scenarios and ToM reasoning overlapped in areas of right posterior temporal cortex previously linked to mental state representation. Implications for understanding verbal cognition in typical and atypical populations are discussed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbernsv094
    Pages (from-to)110-120
    Number of pages11
    JournalSocial Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2016. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Auditory verbal hallucinations
    • Covert speech
    • Dialogue
    • fMRI
    • Monologue


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