Inner speech slips exhibit lexical bias, but not the phonemic similarity effect

Gary M. Oppenheim, Gary S. Dell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inner speech, that little voice that people often hear inside their heads while thinking, is a form of mental imagery. The properties of inner speech errors can be used to investigate the nature of inner speech, just as overt slips are informative about overt speech production. Overt slips tend to create words (lexical bias) and involve similar exchanging phonemes (phonemic similarity effect). We examined these effects in inner and overt speech via a tongue-twister recitation task. While lexical bias was present in both inner and overt speech errors, the phonemic similarity effect was evident only for overt errors, producing a significant overtness by similarity interaction. We propose that inner speech is impoverished at lower (featural) levels, but robust at higher (phonemic) levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)528-537
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Articulatory features
  • Articulatory imagery
  • Articulatory loop
  • Imagery
  • Inner speech
  • Inner speech errors
  • Internal speech
  • Lexical bias
  • Phonemic similarity
  • SLIP procedure
  • Speech errors
  • Speech imagery
  • Speech production
  • Spreading activation
  • Tongue-twisters
  • Verbal imagery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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