Those voices in your head: Activation of auditory images during reading

Christopher A. Kurby*, Joseph P. Magliano, David N. Rapp

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Auditory imagery experiences (AIEs) occur when readers simulate character voices while reading. This project assessed how familiarity with voice and narrative contexts influences activation of AIEs. Participants listened to dialogs between two characters. Participants then read scripts with the characters, half that had been previously listened to and half that were new. During reading, participants were interrupted with an auditory recognition task, with probes presented in voices that either matched or mismatched the character associated with the current line of dialog. Faster responses to matching than mismatching voices were consistently obtained for familiar scripts, providing evidence for AIEs. Transfer to unfamiliar scripts only occurred after extended experience with character voices. These findings define factors that influence activation of speaker voice during reading, with implications for understanding the nature of linguistic representations across presentation modalities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)457-461
Number of pages5
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2009


  • Auditory imagery
  • Language comprehension
  • Perceptual simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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