[Question] Do You Have an Internal Monologue?

I find the differences in the way people think fascinating, to the point where I went around asking people (n~=40) whether they thought verbally or otherwise when I was in high school. I got about 50-50 responses, and proceeded to try to train myself to think conceptually (from a base state of near-constant internal monologue). This was somewhat successful—it took around 3 days of conscious adjustment (“clearing” my mind every time I thought verbally was extremely frustrating) but without maintenance, I slipped back into primarily verbal thought.

The results of this simple personal experiment sat in the back of my mind for a while (made it easier to switch between modes at will but didn’t radically change me), and I’m curious if other people have tried/​are willing to try this, and/​or what their “base state” is. Some other questions swirling around my mind that conversation around this topic might inform:

  • Is one method of thought inherently faster or are humans rate-limited in processing? (tangential info: languages across the world appear to convey information with a consistent bitrate)

  • If you think verbally, do you also subvocalize when you read? Can you “turn off” your verbal thought and does it cause any discomfort? (if you try it, do it for at least a week and report back!)

  • Is there a difference between thinking conceptually and visually? My base state if not verbal is conceptual, but I can force myself into something more actively visual. Some modern fMRI studies into the overall internal-thought topic would be interesting—if anyone is on track to a PhD dissertation in psychology or neuroscience, here’s your chance!

  • What sort of things do you comment on to yourself? Questions? Basic repetitive life occurrences? (I can’t find the direct research paper link but a Stanford study claims ~90% of our thoughts are repetitive)