As a student I once worked in a boring job, which eventually lead me to believe I would end up in a lunatic asylum and the reason for my fears was that I began to speak to myself; the habit has long been viewed as a sign of madness.
But scientists now say that talking to yourself may actually be a sign of high intelligence. Those who speak to themselves out loud while focusing on a task do better than those who stay quiet, a study by Bangor University found. And when people read instructions out loud, their brains absorb more information than if they only use their inner dialogue. It may explain why tennis stars including Maria Sharapova, 30, and Serena Williams, 35, talk to themselves during high stress matches.
Psychologists at Bangor gave 28 people a set of written instructions and asked them to read them either silently or out loud before measuring their concentration performance. Both improved when their instructions had been read aloud.
Dr Paloma Mari-Beffa, Bangor University’s Senior Lecturer in Neuro Psychology and Cognitive Psychology, said: ‘Our ability to generate explicit self-instructions is actually one of the best tools we have for cognitive control, and it simply works better when said aloud. The inner dialogue we keep with ourselves has long been known to be healthy, keeping our minds fit. It helps us organise our thoughts, plan actions, consolidate memory and modulate emotions.’
Dr Mari-Beffa thinks people should stop stigmatizing those who talk to themselves out loud. She said: ‘The stereotype of the mad scientists talking to themselves, lost in their own inner world, might reflect the reality of genius using all the means at their disposal to increase their brain power.’
To me, although it is hard to dispute science or the scientists, the old saying that he that talks to himself speaks to a fool is perhaps to the wise man, defunct.