Silent Reading: Exploring Its Effects on the Brain - Research Paper

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  947 Words
Date:  2023-03-10


Children learn to associate written symbols with spoken words until the process becomes effortless when they can read silently. When people read silently, they increase auditory-related activities in the brains like temporal voice area. Also, silent reading subjects the experience of inner speech or inner voices in the head (Perrone-Bertolotti et al., 2012). Additionally, scholars argue that silent reading activates phonological information. Eye movement during silent reading supports the idea of phonological information activation. However, phonological information activation does not necessarily illustrate the availability of a detailed sounding out words in a way that is similar to external speech. Because it involves it activates phonological information, silent reading influences the subconscious activation of the sound of the words.

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Research Question

The research aims to assess how silent reading involves subconscious activation of the words. Many people have experienced the art of reading silently and translate whatever they have understood in the brain to actions. Inner speech and speaking out loudly share the same experiences and processes in the brain (Perrone-Bertolotti et al., 2012). People always often speak out what they want to do while others do the same routine without external speech. Therefore, the research paper seeks to analyze how silent reading influences the subconscious activation of the words.


Silent reading can influence and activate voice-selective areas found in the auditory cortex. The process involves an activity with high frequency that is sensitive to auditory stimuli and this includes speech. Perrone-Bertolott et al. (2012) found out that one of the left regions of the superior temporal gyrus remained active during silent reading (Perrone-Bertolotti et al., 2012). The study confirms the idea that silent reading involving activation of the subconscious sounds of the words.

Silent readers produce inner voices that correspond to the words they read. Attention is one of the factors that module voice processes and interpretation and this help to explain why silent readers tend to use auditory imagery often when they read difficult texts (Perrone-Bertolotti et al., 2012). Additionally, silent reading relies on phonological processes to interpret and produce the inner sounds of difficult words. The ability to actively involve phonological activation depends on the complexity of the language. Readers must produce an inner sound so that they can interpret the words. Otherwise, reading will not take place without developing silent sounds. For non-proficient readers, top-down attention processes influence the activation of the sounds. Consequently, silent reading involves subconscious activation of sounds of the words.

Also, superior temporal sulcus and superior temporal gyrus play a significant role in phonological processes taking place while reading silently. For example, they help to integrate letters into words and internal speech and help to identify a combination of words and their forms (Perrone-Bertolotti et al., 2012). Although silent reading does not involve vocalization, the process involves the activation of internal sounds to integrate words and create meaning. Also, superior temporal gyrus specifically reacts to readable stimuli that can be words or pseudowords but do not react to consonant strings. In the process, temporal voice-selective areas might then interact with frontal regions in aid of the verbal working memory when an individual reads silently, but the reaction can only take place if there are articulatory rehearsal processes. The processes refresh and update phonological data and materials available in the working memory of every reader (Rayner, Schotter, Masson, Potter & Treiman, 2015). Therefore, auditory-verbal imagery facilitates the working memory to translate words into sentences and translate the sentences into meaning. The interpretation processes involve a whole sentence and not as pieces of words, triggering individual reactions.

Early and letter-speech only take place in advanced readers. It happens so because reading involves a connection between visual and auditory areas. According to Hebbian plasticity, co-activation of the regions would take place repeatedly because of the continuous connection between visual and auditory input in the learning and reading process that involves written words and a perceived reader's voice (Perrone-Bertolotti et al., 2012). As a result of the practice, the auditory cortex becomes directly activated without vocal speech. Also, top-down control can modulate this connectivity. Sustainability and activation of the inner voice is not an automatic response to written words or sentences, but individual attention enhances it (Filik & Barber, 2011). The extent of attention enhances how silent readers process and memorize the words or sentences. The auditory system can be activated in reverse order from the highest to the lower order. The above pieces of evidence support the argument that silent reading involves subconscious activation of the sounds of the words.


Because it involves it activates phonological information, silent reading influences the subconscious activation of the sound of the words. While many understand silent reading as the process of reading and interpreting words and sentences without vocalization, they do not understand how the actual process takes. The process involves the activation of top-down temporal voice in the reading process. The process does not occur automatically but it depends on the extent of the attention of the reader. The reading process involves joining and interpreting words to sentences and making the meaningful interpretation.


Filik, R., & Barber, E. (2011). Inner Speech during Silent Reading Reflects the Reader's Regional Accent. PloS One, 61(0), 1-5. Retrieved from:

Perrone-Bertolotti, et al. (2012). How silent is silent reading? Intracerebral evidence for top-down activation of temporal voice areas during reading. The Journal of Neuroscience, 32(49):17554 -17562. Retrieved from:

Rayner, K., Schotter, E., Masson, M., Potter, M., & Treiman, R. (2015). So Much to Read, So Little Time: How Do We Read, and Can Speed Reading Help? Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 17(1), 4-34. Retrieved from:

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Silent Reading: Exploring Its Effects on the Brain - Research Paper. (2023, Mar 10). Retrieved from

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