Mirror speech synesthesia

When someone with this type of synesthesia hears another person speak, they get the feeling that their own mouth, throat and even stomach are moving as if they were producing the same sounds.

It has some similarities with mirror touch synesthesia, and perhaps bears a relationship to auditory-tactile synesthesia. Although it appears to be uncommon (according to Sean Day’s study on the prevalence of the different types, only 0.18% of the 1,143 synesthetes questioned reported having this kind of experience), it is still a little known phenomenon and may therefore be more reported in future. Some people experience it not only as a reaction to others talking but also with general sounds, as can be seen from the descriptions below, although this latter variant is probably extremely rare.

Here are some descriptions written by people with this type of synesthesia:

“It's a strange, extremely vivid sensation of physically speaking (tongue motions, lip movements, air in my throat) when I'm not, and my mouth/tongue/throat aren't actually moving.”

(Source: This comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2020.)

"…forgetting to breathe because I can't remember if I've actually taken a breath or if it was just someone else... or choking on someone else's snores or coughs...!"

(Source: This comment on Reddit/Synesthesia. 2020.)

“I have a sensation in back of my throat corresponding to the sounds I hear, except it applies to all sounds, not just speech or singing. It feels almost like a sort of opening or closing in my throat (which isn't actually happening), combined with the "texture" (how smooth/rough a sound is). The sensation can also have a feeling of motion that might extend out, up, or down into my head or chest."


  1. I think I experience something like this, but it differs from the description in a key way: I experience what the sound of other people's voices feels like in my own throat and chest, but I don't feel like my anatomy is moving most of the time. Certain sounds cause a sensation that tricks me into thinking "Did I just do that too?" But that's rare. Mostly I'm just feeling the sound of the other person's voice. The resonance. The vocal fry. The shakiness or firmness.

    It happens on a wide spectrum of intensity, with some vocal sounds not even registering, and some vocal sounds being scarcely perceptible, and some vocal sounds matching or exceeding the sensation of making the sound myself. When I sing together with other people and we're harmonizing, I feel like the vibrations in my own throat have doubled or tripled because their voices are in there too. Same for when I'm at a concert and everyone (including me) screams with excitement.

    And the inducer isn't just human voices. I feel sensations when I hear the voices of animals, especially some of the sounds ravens make. And totally artificial sounds that kind of resemble voices- I feel those too. Other forms of synesthesia: I have textures for sounds in general, mostly in my mind but sometimes they have a location in my mouth, cheeks, inner ears, and on or in my head. And sounds distort how things taste and feel in my mouth.

  2. I experience something similar to this but only related to singing. When I am singing along with music I am listening to, I can feel what the singer's voice feels like in my throat and mouth. There's an element of being able to emulate their singing voice, but it's not mimicry, since I don't sound exactly like them. It's more like a physical feeling of their tone, their technique, their style, their phrasing, their way of pronouncing words. The most interesting part is that when singing along with different singers, I seem to adopt their range limitations. I won't be able to hit a note that I am actually capable of hitting when I am singing in another singer's voice who can't reach that note.

    1. This sounds so much like me! Although, I don't need to be singing along to feel it in my mouth and throat, I can just be listening. Also, just imagining a song I know well can cause me to feel it in my mouth. I can't reproduce someone's range though, but I can feel the resonance of lower / higher notes. It's amazing to know that other people experience this too!

    2. This is me as well! For me it specifically comes with a very strong urge to sing myself, and I think that's actually a big part of how I started learning how to sing in the first place. When I eventually took formal lessons, my instructor really wanted me to work on doing less mimicry (because I do think of it as such) because I needed to learn how to sing in my own voice.

  3. I think I might have this. For a while I’ve just written it off as my adhd, because I accidentally copy people’s accents when I’m talking to them, and my dad (adhd) does the same thing. I thought the reason he does it is because he also feels the way someone is speaking, but whenever I explain it to others I just get blank stares. I’ve gotten multiple roles in plays because I’m great at copying accents, but whenever I would try to help someone else do the same accent I would be so confused why they couldn’t do it. It’s not just accents though. I’ve been copying the way singers sound since I was a toddler. It’s really freaky.