Anauralia is the phenomenon of an absence of auditory sensory imagery
- not hearing anything in one's inner ear
The Anauralia Lab aims to discover how important our inner voice and our inner ear actually is, and what distinguishes those. What do people experience who don't seem to experience auditory imagery - like a dog barking or hearing the full band play their favourite song?
What makes people who don't have access to their inner voice different - or similar? What do we need our inner monologue and auditory imagery for?
Until very recently a word denoting lack of auditory imagery did not exist in English. In 2021 we introduced the term Anauralia for referring to a complete absence of auditory sensory imagery (Hinwar and Lambert, 2021).
Can you imagine the sound of a dog barking, or a favourite song, or the way these words would sound if they were being spoken by David Attenborough? Most people can imagine voices, music and sounds in their ‘mind’s ear’, but this isn’tuniversal. People vary widely in their experience of auditory imagery. Some describe a silent inner world, in which thoughts and memories are not accompanied by imagined sounds. Anauralia refers to this absence of internal auditory imagery. At the other end of the spectrum, individuals who experience hyperauralia report ‘hearing’ imagined sounds very clearly indeed in their ‘mind’s ear’.
Previous research has suggested that mental representations of sounds and words accompanied by auditory imagery (including the notion of an ‘inner voice’) are critically important for psychological functioning across awide range of domains, including memory, language, thinking and music. These representations are also thought to play a key role in cognitive development. Therefore, accounts of people who report experiencing no auditory imagery at all, and who describe a silent mental life, prompt a variety of fascinating and important questions concerning the role of auditory sensory imagery in psychological functioning.
The terms anauralia and aphantasia are closely related. While anauralia refers to a lack of auditory imagery, aphantasia refers to a lack of visual imagery. If you are interested in finding out more about Aphantasia you can visit the Aphantasia Network here.
Our research aims to enhance understanding and appreciation of the astonishing diversity of the human condition, by investigating the psychological implications of varying experiences of auditory imagery.
In this survey study we ask participants to tell us about arange of different everyday experiences related to auditory sensory imagery. These include imagining voices, music and other sounds, experiencing an ‘innervoice’ while thinking or reading, and musical interests and experience. Click here or scan the QR code on the right to take the auditory imagery questionnaire and help us identify a scale to better define Anauralia.
We also run several in person studies in our lab at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. These incluse looking at Working Memory, Pupil Dilation and Brain activity patterns of Anauralics, Hyperauralics and Controls. If you would like to find out more, or are interested in participating and live in or near Auckland, please contact us.
Current ongoing research topics for participation:
- Help us find out more about the connections between imagery and music over at The Music Lab!
- Auditory imagery and working memory
- Changes in pupil size while imagining music
- Auditory imagery and autobiographical memory