General Question

noaliby's avatar

How do deaf people think?

Asked by noaliby (3points) December 23rd, 2007

Whenever I think about anything I hear a “voice” in my head, if I read something there is that same voice… So for someone who has never heard a sound, how would they be able to form a thought, solve a problem… would it be completely visual? Would this be an extra handicap for deaf people whose brains are not designed to think visually?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

9 Answers

omfgTALIjustIMDu's avatar

Most likely in the same way you think when you’re reading something for the first time. I find it hard to believe you hear a specific person’s voice when say, doing problems in a math textbook. Also, studies show that when one sense is diminished, the others are increased to make up for the lack in sensory information. So, a deaf person might have a better sense of sight, a blind person a better sense in smell, etc.

El_Cadejo's avatar

omfgTALIustMDu that didnt really answer the question at hand. noaliby if your anything like me, you do hear that same voice when you think or read. Its your sub-conscious talking to you, or atleast thats how i always thought of it. So what im wondering too is, do deaf people have a subconscious mind? Any deaf people out there reading this?

ellend's avatar

I dont’ think it matters much whether a person is deaf, since we all, deaf and hearing, seem to think a lot in language.I think in words and sentences, but I don’t hear a voice (well, maybe my own, kind of, but there isn’t any sound to it) when I think. The more interesting question to me is how do people think when they don’t have language, for example, infants. They most definitely are busy thinking, figuring everything out- what is it like to think without the context of language?

ben's avatar

I don’t hear when I think. I just think in abstract “idea-space.” It’s hard to describe, but it’s definitely not auditory. I think there are probably quite a few distinct ways people think, though it might be hard to study scientifically. I think it’s a safe bet that deaf people don’t think using sound though. It’s also a safe bet that this is not a problem for them at all, and they can think very fluidly using analogous structures.

Response moderated
samkusnetz's avatar

firstly, the voice you hear in your head isn’t something that you’re born with… it’s something that your brain develops. a person born deaf can think perfectly well, but given the lack of that specific experience, will not develop that particular thinking technique.

secondly, the voice in your head isn’t that actual thinking happening… that’s just the “interface” that you have found most useful for interacting with your thoughts. so i think it is quite unlikely that a deaf person would be at any sort of mental disadvantage due to the lack of this “interface”... they would simply develop a different one.

language is not only aural, it’s visual too. we print words on a page and read them, a folks who know american sign language, or any other sign language, can sign words in space and interpret them visually. ASL is, in fact, a highly efficient language and can express complex ideas in very graceful and often very simple ways. it stands to reason, therefore, that a native ASL “speaker” might develop a highly functional spatial method of representational thought.

lastly, i for one do not really use a lot of language in my thoughts. i often describe the results of my thoughts to myself using language, but the first stages of thinking about something are usually not verbal. i mean, i know i can think faster than i can talk. so why slow myself down with silly words, when i can grasp larger, more complex ideas directly, and then translate into words later? right?

samkusnetz's avatar

also, elahnz, your comment is offensive and has no place here on fluther.

Noon's avatar

Like samkusnetz said, the voice in your head is simply an interface that allows you to make “tangible” the thoughts you are thinking.

As a sign language interpreter I feel like I’ve met my fair share of Deaf people, and yes they have a subconscious mind, yes they can “think in their head” without having to “sign out loud”.

The problem comes in the state of deaf eduction (especially in America). Many times for various reasons a deaf child grows up with a lack of exposure to native language. Either they are stuck in an oral program and don’t have enough residual hearing for it to be successful, or they are taught sign language at school by someone who is not native, and comes home to parents who have never learned sign.

This lack of exposure to native language can severely hinder anyone’s cognative development deaf or hearing. Developing a native language allows us to do/think many things that we would not other wise be able to.

But You do ask an interesting question because there are many people who are studying this exact question in neurolinguistics, So if you do want to know, you can look up some of the current theories.

Bookworm101a's avatar

I read and do not hear a vioce I just know what the words are and can read without a voice and I just read knowing what all the words are I automatically reconize the words.

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther