I've recently experienced a number of hypnogogic near sleep states characterized by change in thinking (stage 1-2 sleep). I noticed that if I let go and get absorbed in the state, I can follow it.
I can describe the hypnogogic sensation as a feeling of empty space without a definite boundary. Typically the state arises at 17-23 minutes after bedtime (I'm using a timer to check). However, as soon as I activate "inner voice" or think a thought spoken in that voice, those other near sleep states get completely suppressed. Literally, a single word disrupts these states.
This makes me interested what happens in the brain when a person thinks using a single threaded, spoken train of thought? ("I'm typing a question on cogsci right now" or "I'm reading a question right now") Is there some part of the brain that gets activated while others get suppressed? In particular I'm interested why spoken thought suppresses other non-verbal states that a brain can consciously experience?
Internal monologue, also known as inner voice, internal speech, or verbal stream of consciousness is thinking in words. It also refers to the semi-constant internal monologue one has with oneself at a conscious or semi-conscious level.
It would be interesting to know if there's some difference that fMRI can show between a brain that's reading using voice and brain that's reading non-verbally.
I recall reading about similar phenomenon in the eastern spiritual traditions, like Taoism or Buddhism, where the states of mind they are trying to achieve are also incompatible with inner voice.