Have you ever found yourself rushing to answer a question before it’s been fully verbalized by the questioner? A new MRI study from Cornell University has found that many people experience this unconscious impatience.
The study, entitled A real-time MRI investigation of anticipatory posturing in prepared responses, revealed that many humans are more impatient than they realize–preparing their speech musclesto deliver answers to questions still in the process of being asked. Rather than being “active listeners”, people tend to position their speech organs (tongue, lips and jaw) for their responses–as soon as they believe they have the gist of the query.
The researchers made the difficult task of imaging their subjects’ speech anatomies possible by capturing approximately 200 images per second, revealing the subtle movements in each subject’s tongue and jaw.
Says lead researcher Sam Tilsen, “It surprised us how some speakers positioned their vocal tracts to anticipate upcoming responses, but also that there was a great variation in which vocal organs speakers used for this positioning. People don’t all behave in a unified, coherent way.”
Tilsen is hopeful that the research will help in his work to develop software that will enable stroke patients to re-learn how to use their vocal organs.
““There’s only so much you can do with what you see and hear externally,” said Tilsen. “People don’t have a good sense of what’s going on with their tongue. Even I was surprised when I saw these MRI images of what the tongue is doing.”