Unwavering Focus Is Right at The Tip of Your Tongue

Want to escape from debilitating stress, slow down all those thoughts swirling around your head and focus on the task at hand like a laser beam? The solution may be right at the tip of your tongue.

Back in the 1970s, Maxwell Cade, a pioneer in biofeedback, could train people to significantly increase their reading speed in just two or three hours. Using a technique called EMG (electromyography), which essentially measures muscle movement and the electrical impulses the movement creates, Cade would attach two sensors on each side of the Adam’s apple.

The sensors picked up even slight movements of the tongue and into the throat. Through a biofeedback device, that information was communicated to the participant in real time, so that they became keenly aware of when they were and weren’t moving their tongue. This increased awareness in turn enabled the participant to control their tongue movement and still the tongue at will, which resulted in vastly increased reading speed.

Just how does controlling the movement of your tongue enable you to read faster?

Most of us, without even knowing it, engage in subvocalization. Whenever we think (or read), the words on the page don't only register in our mind. The physical apparatus of speech, and the tongue in particular, joins in the act. We don’t usually say the words out loud or use the full range of muscle movements we would if we were speaking the words. But our tongue is tensing and moving to the sound of the words just the same.

If you are reading and your tongue is silently mouthing the words, even using tiny muscle movements, your reading speed will be limited to the speed at which you can say the words you are reading.

By becoming keenly aware of and then eliminating the tongue’s subvocalization of your reading material, you can easily read far faster than your tongue can speak. You are now limited only by the speed of your mind, not the speed of your tongue.

Relax Your Tongue, Focus Your Brain

If the only benefit of eliminating subvocalization is to increase your reading speed, it would be well worth the effort. But learning to relax your tongue and eliminate subvocalization at will can do far more than give your reading a boost.