Some people "hear" a spoken voice in their head when they read words, apparently called subvocalization.

What do you call it when you hear someone speaking and your brain turns it into actual words that you "see" before you in your mind's eye? This happens without any particular effort or intention.

  • Not the point of the question, but is either of these not normal / something an average person does?
    – AthomSfere
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 2:07
  • @AthomSfere, if this is actually a form of synesthesia, it's probably not common at all.
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 3:27
  • Following @barbecue’s link, I see synesthesia is described as visual effects integrated into your visual perception, really seeing it. You wrote “mind’s eye” which is not the same thing. I interpret your description to mean that the glyphs are called up in an internal space, separate from the picture you get from your eyes. Can you clarify?
    – JDługosz
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 6:49
  • @JDługosz, synesthesia can be either directly perceived or in the mind's eye depending on the particular person.
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 14:51

2 Answers 2


If this happens without conscious effort, then it may be a form of synesthesia usually called ticker tape synesthesia.

  • Reading the abstract to that document you linked to, I'd have to say that's it.
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 22:39
  • A quick search for ticker tape synesthesia will return lots of discussions on various forums of this phenomenon, reddit, etc, but there doesn't seem to be a lot of actual research.
    – barbecue
    Commented Sep 18, 2017 at 22:43
  • Hmm, so subvocalization is “normal” (common anyway; those are the people who mix up homonyms) in adults,so it doesn't need a term? But the other way around is a medical condition?
    – JDługosz
    Commented Sep 19, 2017 at 6:43

Seeing words as images is called Visualization.

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