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If two witches would watch two watches which witch would watch which watch ?

Can you hear yourself stumble as you read these words ? Can your hear your intonation ? Can you have imaginary dialogs ?
The nature of inner language has long been under the careful scrutiny of scholars, philosophers, psychologists, writers and artists, through the practice of introspection. The use of recent experimental methods in the field of psycholinguistics and cognitive neuroscience provides a new window of insight into the format, properties, qualities and mechanisms of inner language. The aim of the INNERSPEECH interdisciplinary research project is to draw a sketch of the cerebral mechanisms that underpin various forms of inner language, such as wilful inner speech, verbal mind wandering or mental rumination, by confronting subjective descriptions (questionnaires and interviews) with empirical data (neuroimaging, electrophysiology and behaviour).

Results 2014-18 Ongoing Members 2014-18 Events Publications General public Media Press Contact

RESULTS 2014-18

The aim of the InnerSpeech 2014-2018 ANR project was to draw a theoretical account of inner speech - the silent production of words in one’s mind - by examining neural and physiological correlates of various forms of inner speech, such as wilful inner speech (with our own voice vs. someone else’s, like in interior monologues vs. dialogues), verbal mind wandering or verbal rumination, and by confronting these objective measurements with subjective descriptions. In the InnerSpeech project, a multi-paradigm approach was therefore implemented. Subjective data were obtained through questionnaires and introspective interviews. Quantitative objective data include cerebral activation data obtained via functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), brain dynamics obtained via intracranial electroencephalography (iEEG), electromyographic (EMG) recordings of orofacial muscle activity (lips, forehead), cardiac variability and motor interference measurements.
The InnerSpeech 2014-2018 project allowed us to draw a neurocognitive predictive control model, in which deliberate expanded inner speech is considered as deriving from the transformation of multisensory goals arising from sensory cortices. An inverse model transforms this desired multisensory state into motor commands which are specified in motor regions and inhibited by prefrontal cortex. The efference copy of these motor commands is transformed by a forward model into simulated multimodal acts (inner phonation, articulation, gesture) which themselves provide predicted multisensory percepts (in the mind’s ear, tact and eye) that are processed in sensory regions. These predicted signals are perceived as an inner voice unfolding over time. In our modelling, the comparison between desired and predicted sensory states provides the sense of agency relevant to feeling in control of one’s inner language. In this framework, three types of inner verbalisation can be accounted for : unbidden thoughts, wilful inner speech, and auditory verbal hallucination.

Cerebral network of willful inner speech : from the lemma, issued in left middle temporal gyrus, to phonetic goals, generated in supramarginal gyrus, then to the little voice auditorily perceived, via the efference copy of the motor commands, themselves generated in the inferior frontal cortex and inhibited by the executive control system.

Our fMRI data have allowed us to describe the neural networks associated with the production of inner speech with our own voice vs. someone else’s voice (monologal varieties) as well as those associated with imaginary vs actual speech perception (dialogal varieties). Taken together with the introspective questionnaires, our fMRI data provide a more detailed description of the networks of wilful inner speech vs. verbal mind wandering.

The collection and analysis of iEEG data in implanted patients are still in progress.

Our EMG and motor interference data, collected in collaboration with the LIP (Grenoble) and Ghent University (Belgium), suggest that the lip motor system is involved in induced ruminations. They provide promising strategies to reduce rumination via orofacial relaxation or inhibition.

The analysis of the detailed introspective data collected in collaboration with the Monologuer Project (CERILAC, Univ. Paris Diderot) is still under way.

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ONGOING since 2019

Theoretically, the InnerSpeech 2014-2018 ANR project has contributed to improve our understanding of several varieties of inner speech. On a clinical level, it offers potential outcomes in the field of rumination or auditory verbal hallucination remediation. It also opens up humanist and societal prospects related to the practice of inner language with the goal of improving self awareness or cognitive performance.

We continue our research into the forms and functions of inner language by confronting phenomenological questionnaires and objective measurements (behavioural and neurophysiological), interviewing and examining different populations (typical individuals, patients with aphasia, people with voice-hearing experiences).

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LPNC members who participated in InnerSpeech 2014-18 :

Permanent researchers
- Monica Baciu
- Hélène Lœvenbruck (PI)
- Marcela Perrone-Bertolotti

Research engineers
- Sylvain Harquel
- Cédric Pichat

- Romain Grandchamp
- Yanica Klein-Koerkamp
- Lucile Rapin

PhD student
- Ladislas Nalborczyk

Partners in the InnerSpeech 2014-2018 project :

- Département Parole et Cognition de GIPSA-lab : Marion Dohen, Maëva Garnier, Pascal Perrier (resp.), Anne Vilain
- UMS IRMaGe : Alexandre Krainik (resp.), Laurent Lamalle, Irène Troprès
- Laboratoire de Neurophysiopathologie de l’épilepsie (CHU de Grenoble, GIN) : Philippe Kahane
- CRNL équipe Dynamique Cérébrale et Cognition, Unité INSERM U1028 (Lyon) : Jean-Philippe Lachaux
- Neurolab (University of Ferrara, Italy) : Luciano Fadiga
- Cognitive Neuroscience of Schizophrenia Lab (University British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) : Todd Woodward

Collaboration :

Part of the InnerSpeech project is carried out in collaboration with Stéphanie Smadja, Université Paris Diderot, CERILAC, PI of the Monologue Programme.

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EVENTS InnerSpeech 2014-18

- 24 January 2014 : Project launching meeting

- 7 June 2016 : Workshop on Inner Speech
Invited speakers :
Fernando Martínez Manrique, Universidad de Granada
Agustin Vicente, Ikerbasque Foundation of Science
Stéphanie Smadja, Université Paris Diderot

- 10 June 2016 : Panel discussion on the current development of the Monologuer-InnerSpeech collaboration, intended for the participants in the experiment

- 14 November 2016 : Meeting on EMG and TMS protocoles, intended for the InnerSpeech project members
Guest :
Luciano Fadiga, University of Ferrara, Italy

- 10-11 February 2017 : Monologuer-InnerSpeech colloquium
Inner speech experiences :
Jointly organized by Stéphanie Smadja and Hélène Lœvenbruck
Location : Université Paris Diderot

- 23 June 2017 : LPNC colloquium
Inner language forms, functions and dysfunctions
Invited speakers :
Charles Fernyhough, Durham University
The Voices in our Heads
Agustin Vicente, Ikerbasque Foundation of Science
The linguistic determination of conscious thought contents
Blaise Yvert, BrainTech Laboratory & Thomas Hueber, GIPSA-lab, Grenoble
First steps towards a brain computer interface for speech rehabilitation
Ernst H. W. Koster, Ghent University
The remarkable persistence of negative thought Insights from cognitive science
Stéphanie Smadja, Université Paris Diderot
Literary Representation of Inner Speech Disorders
Romain Grandchamp, LPNC
Brainarium : Immersive brain performance


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In International Journals or Books


  • Nalborczyk, L., Grandchamp, R., Koster, E.H.W., Perrone-Bertolotti, M., & Lœvenbruck, H. (2020). Can we decode phonetic features in inner speech using surface electromyography ? PLoS ONE, 15(5) : e0233282.


  • Grandchamp R., Rapin L., Perrone-Bertolotti M., Pichat C., Haldin, C., Cousin E., Lachaux J.P., Dohen M., Perrier P., Garnier M., Baciu M., Lœvenbruck H. (2019). The ConDialInt Model : Condensation, Dialogicality and Intentionality dimensions of inner speech within a hierarchical predictive control framework. Frontiers in psychology, Exploring the Nature, Content, and Frequency of Intrapersonal Communication, 10. doi : 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02019 - hal-02290943


  • Lœvenbruck, H. (2018). What the neurocognitive study of inner language reveals about our inner space. Épistémocritique, n° 18 : Langage intérieur - Espaces intérieurs / Inner Speech - Inner Space, Stéphanie Smadja, Pierre-Louis Patoine (eds.) - hal-02039667
  • Lœvenbruck, H., Grandchamp, R., Rapin, L., Nalborczyk, L., Dohen, M., Perrier, P., Baciu, M. & Perrone-Bertolotti M. (2018). A cognitive neuroscience view of inner language : to predict and to hear, see, feel. In Inner Speech : New voices, Peter Langland-Hassan & Agustín Vicente (eds.), Oxford University Press, 131-167. - hal-01898992


  • Lœvenbruck H., Nalborczyk L., Perrone-Bertolotti M., Baeyens C., Grandchamp R. (2017). Un cas d’incarnation linguistique : implication du système moteur orofacial dans les ruminations mentales. La cognition incarnée, J. Dokic et D. Perrin (dir.), Recherches sur la philosophie et le langage, N° 33, Vrin, Paris, 297-324, ISBN : 978-2-7116-8423-6. - hal-01887636
  • Nalborczyk L., Perrone-Bertolotti M., Baeyens C., Grandchamp R., Polosan M., Spinelli E., Koster E. H. W. & Lœvenbruck H. (2017). Orofacial electromyographic correlates of induced verbal rumination. Biological Psychology. 127, 53-63. doi : 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2017.04.013 - hal-01569420v1




Before the project

  • Rapin L., Dohen M., Polsan M., Perrier P., Lœvenbruck H. (2013). An EMG study of the lip muscles during covert auditory verbal hallucinations in schizophrenia. J. Speech Hearing and Language Research, 56, S1882–S1893. hal-00926630
  • Vercueil, L. & Perrone-Bertolotti, M. (2013). Short case Report : Ictal inner speech jargon. Epilepsy & Behavior, 27(2) : 307-309.
  • Perrone-Bertolotti, M., Kujala, J., Vidal, J. R., Hamame, C. M., Ossandon, T., Bertrand, O., … Lachaux, J.-P. (2012). How silent is silent reading ? Intracerebral evidence for top-down activation of temporal voice areas during reading. J Neurosci, 32(49), 17554–17562.
  • Rapin, L., Metzak, P. D., Whitman, J. C., Dohen, M., Lœvenbruck, H., & Woodward, T. S. (2012). Hyperintensity of functional networks involving voice-selective cortical regions during silent thought in schizophrenia. Psychiatry Research : Neuroimaging, 102 (2), 110-117. hal-00734043, PMID : 22703623

Communications (conferences or workshops)

  • Grandchamp R., Rapin L., Lœvenbruck H., Perrone-Bertolotti M., Pichat C., Lachaux J.P., Baciu M. (2016). Inner Speech with your own or someone else’s voice. Cerebral correlates assessed with fMRI. Society for the Neurobiology of Language (SNL) Conference 2016, London 17-20 August 2016, Poster B66.
  • Lœvenbruck H. (2016). Un cas d’incarnation linguistique : implication du système moteur orofacial dans les ruminations mentales. Editorial meeting du numéro spécial cognition incarnée de la revue Recherches sur la philosophie et le langage, Denis Perrin (ed.), Grenoble, France, 25 mars 2016.
  • Lœvenbruck, H. Grandchamp R., Rapin L., Perrone-Bertolotti M., Pichat C., Haldin, C., Dohen M., Perrier P., Lachaux J.P., Garnier M., Baciu M. (2019). Neural correlates of inner speaking, imitating and hearing : an fMRI study. Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 2019), Melbourne, Australia, 5-9 August 2019, 1407-1411. Communication orale, hal-02367806
  • Lœvenbruck, H., Grandchamp, R., Rapin, L., Nalborczyk, L., Dohen, M., Perrier, P., Baciu, M., & Perrone-Bertolotti, M. (2018). A neurocognitive predictive model of willful inner speech production. The Probabilistic Brain Workshop, Durham, UK, March 23-24, 2018, Poster
  • Nalborczyk L., Baeyens C., Grandchamp R., Lœvenbruck H., Perrone-Bertolotti M., Polosan M. (2015). Orofacial electromyographic correlates of induced verbal rumination. Conference Embodied and Situated Language Processing : Stepping out of the Frame (ESLP 2015). Lyon – 29-30 July 2015. Poster presentation.
  • Nalborczyk L., Lœvenbruck H., Perrone-Bertolotti M., Baeyens C., Grandchamp R. (2016). Verbal rumination as an embodied orofacial action. First International Conference on Language and Enaction, Clermont-Ferrand, France, June 1-3 2016.
  • Nalborczyk L., Perrone-Bertolotti M., Baeyens C., Keracheva E., Grandchamp R., Spinelli E., Koster E., Lœvenbruck H., (2016). Rumination at the crossroads of embodied inner speech and emotion : facial electromyographic correlates. Consortium of European Research on Emotion (CERE) conference, Leiden, The Netherlands, July 6-7 2016, Symposium 4, Paper 1, Abstract p.101.
  • Nalborczyk, L., Lœvenbruck, H., Keracheva, E., Koster, E., Baeyens, C., Grandchamp, R., & Perrone-Bertolotti, M. (2017). Articulatory suppression effects on verbal rumination. Cognitive Science Arena, Brixen, Italy, 17-18 February 2017.
  • Nalborczyk L., Perrone-Bertolotti M., Baeyens C., Keracheva, E., Grandchamp R., Spinelli E., Koster E. H. W. & Lœvenbruck H. (2017). Verbal rumination as simulated speech. The 10th annual Embodied and Situated Language Processing Conference, Moscow, Russia, 10-12 September 2017.
  • Nalborczyk L., Perrone-Bertolotti M., Baeyens C., Grandchamp R., Spinelli E., Koster E. H. W. & Lœvenbruck H. (2018). Can articulatory suppression disrupt repetitive negative thinking ? The 16th European Workshop on Imagery and Cognition, Padua, Italy, 7-9 June 2018.

PhD thesis

  • Nalborczyk L. (2019). Understanding rumination as a form of inner speech - Probing the role of motor processes. Thèse en co-tutelle, doctorat de l’EDISCE, Université Grenoble Alpes et doctorat de psychologie de l’université de Gand, Belgique, soutenue le 18 octobre 2019.

Master’s degree theses

  • Nalborczyk L. (2015). Effets de la relaxation orofaciale sur les corrélats physiologiques de la rumination mentale induite. Mémoire de M2R Sciences Cognitives, Grenoble INP.
  • Keracheva E. (2016). Implication du système moteur orofacial dans la production de ruminations mentales verbales : évaluation d’un effet d’interférence motrice. Mémoire de Master 1 Psychologie Clinique. Université Grenoble Alpes.
  • El Helou M. (2017). Les caractéristiques temporelles de la parole à voix haute et de la parole intérieure. Rapport de stage de recherche bénévole, Master 1 MIASHS parcours Double Compétence Informatique et Sciences Sociales, Université Grenoble Alpes.
  • Gautheron F. (2017). Confrontation of fMRI data and answers to phenomenological surveys about inner speech. Mémoire de Master 1 Sciences Cognitives, Grenoble INP.
  • Steinhilber A. (2017). Analyse de données IRMf sur le vagabondage mental verbal. Rapport d’initiation à la recherche en laboratoire, 2ème année ENSIMAG, Grenoble INP.
  • Sonja Banjac (2018). Orofacial electromyographic correlates of visual and verbal induced rumination - A preliminary study. Mémoire M2R Sciences cognitives, Grenoble INP.
  • Olivier Clerc (2018). Neurophysiological correlates of deliberate inner speech and verbal mind wandering. Mémoire M2R Sciences cognitives, Grenoble INP.
  • Marion Daman (2019). Le langage intérieur chez les personnes atteintes d’aphasie : Une nouvelle méthode de mesure. Travail d’Etude et de Recherche, Master 1 de Psychologie parcours Recherche, Université Grenoble Alpes.

Invited talks and Lab colloquiums

  • Lœvenbruck H. (2014). Langage intérieur et neurosciences
    Séminaire Monologuer, Université Paris 7, Lundi 17 novembre 2014
  • Lœvenbruck H. (2015). Traces neurocognitives du langage intérieur. Mardi 3 novembre 2015. Institut Cochin, INSERM, Paris, Mardi 3 novembre 2015
  • Lœvenbruck H. (2015). Neurocognitive recordings of inner language. Workshop mind-brain project - University of Navarra, Pamplona, Espagne, 13 novembre 2015
  • Lœvenbruck, H. (2017). Le langage intérieur à l’aune des neurosciences cognitives : prédire et s’entendre - Journée NeuroCoG, Université Grenoble Alpes, 6 octobre 2017
  • Lœvenbruck, H. (2018). Le langage intérieur scruté par les neurosciences cognitives : introspection, données neurophysiologiques et modélisation - 28ème session des actualités épileptologiques de l’Association des Neurologues Libéraux de Langue Française, Paris, 13 janvier 2018
  • Lœvenbruck, H. (2018). Cognitive neuroscience tapping inner language : prediction and perception - Conférence organisée par Hearing the Voice, Durham University, Royaume-Uni, 22 mars 2018
  • Lœvenbruck, H. (2018). Des voix dans la tête : introspection, données neurophysiologiques et modélisation neurocognitive - équipe PsyCHIC, SCALab, Lille, 5 juin 2018
  • Lœvenbruck, H. (2019). The ConDialInt Model : a neurocognitive account of condensation, dialogality and intentionality in inner speech - Faculté de Psychologie et des Sciences de l’Education, Université de Genève, 9 décembre 2019
  • Lœvenbruck, H. (2020). Voices in our head : introspection, neurophysiological data and neurocognitive modelling of inner speech - Facultat de Psicologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Catalogne, 16 janvier 2020
  • Nalborczyk, L., Perrone-Bertolotti, M., Baeyens, C., Grandchamp, R., Spinelli, E., Koster, E., Lœvenbruck, H. (2016). Facial EMG correlates of induced rumination and positive effects of relaxation. Journée Scientifique du LPNC, Grenoble, Vendredi 17 juin 2016.

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  • Perrone-Bertolotti M. (2013). What is that little voice inside my head ? Facultad de Medicina, Pontificia Universidad, Santiago, Chile - août 2013
  • Perrone-Bertolotti M. (2013). What is that little voice inside my head ? Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive (LPC, UMR7290), Marseille, France - octobre 2013


  • Chouquet M. & Lœvenbruck H. (2014). Impromptu scientifique « Des voix dans la tête » - Campement scientifique : événement Arts et Sciences en pays d’Apt, avec le groupe n+1, Les ateliers du spectacle - du 24 au 28 septembre 2014
  • Lœvenbruck H. (2014). D’où vient la petite voix qui nous trotte dans la tête ? - Université InterCommunale du Grésivaudan - 14 avril 2014
  • Lœvenbruck H. (2014). Qui est cette petite voix dans ma tête ? - GIN, conférence à destination des lycéens des neuroclasses du lycée Delorme, Isle d’Abeau - Mardi 22 avril 2014
  • Lœvenbruck H. (2014). La petite voix dans la tête - Journées de l’institut Néel – Allevard - Mercredi 21 mai 2014
  • Perrone-Bertolotti M. (2014). The inner voice. "Epileptic seizure in all their states". Grenoble meetings on epilepsy, Grenoble - septembre 2014


  • Lœvenbruck H. (2015). Parole intérieure consciente et inconsciente : de la récitation mentale aux hallucinations auditives verbales - Neurocercle, Grenoble - Mercredi 21 janvier 2015
  • Lœvenbruck H. (2015). Les neurosciences cognitives et les manifestations du langage intérieur - Colloque Points de vue partagés sur la connaissance de l’humain : corps, langage, symptômes, Paris - Vendredi 10 avril 2015
  • Lœvenbruck H. (2015). Les neurosciences cognitives à l’écoute du langage intérieur - Midi Minatec, Grenoble - Vendredi 22 mai 2015
  • Perrone-Bertolotti M. et Grandchamp R. (2015). Notre esprit vagabond et sa petite voix interne - Pint of Science, Grenoble - Mercredi 20 mai 2015





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In the press and on portals

  • Science et Vie Junior :
    Contribution au dossier de Carine Peyrières, « Les 10 cerveaux les plus étranges de la planète : Elle entend des voix », N° 327, December 2016, p. 34-35.


  • France Inter : émission "Sur les épaules de Darwin", par Jean-Claude Ameisen Aux origines du langage, 13 July 2014
  • Radio Canada : émission « divines tentations », par Danièle Grenier
    « La petite voix en vous »,interview with H. Lœvenbruck, 24 January 2015


  • Radio Canada TV : « Découverte » program, by André Bernard and Geneviève Turcotte, broadcast on 15 January 2017

    Video Documentary : La petite voix (the little voice)
    Article : Démystifier la parole intérieure (Demystifying inner speech)


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Hélène Lœvenbruck
+33 4 76 82 56 75