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If you've ever heard an echo of yourself on phone or video chat, you've probably noticed the phenomenon that you completely forget what you were talking about when you hear yourself talking.

Have there been any studies that explain why this happens?

I think there was an XKCD comic about it but I can't find it right now.

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FWIW, I've heard echoes of myself on the phone, but when this has happened, I've never forgotten what I was talking about at all. I've also listened to recordings of myself, and read my own writing, but I only forget the content of what I've said or written at a relatively normal rate. In fact, I forget less than if the words are not my own, such as when I read or listen to someone else's writing or recording two separate times with an intermediate delay. This semi-opposite phenomenon is one of the reasons I think it's useful to have others proofread my writing! Off-topic at all? – Nick Stauner Jan 16 '14 at 22:43
up vote 5 down vote accepted

This phenomenon is called delayed auditory feedback. Why is still an open question, but two theories are:

  • Servomotor hypothesis: delayed auditory feedback creates an error signal, which the motor systems uses to attempt to correct the motor output.

  • Distruptive rhythm hypothesis: Speech is too fast for error correcting feedback (i.e. speech is feedforward), delayed auditory feedback disrupts the rhythm of motor output.

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+1 this is a really good answer – user3832 Jan 16 '14 at 19:36
Excellent links! – Wayne Werner Jan 16 '14 at 21:40
Your first link describes a device or method, not a memory phenomenon. In fact no mention of the forgetting phenomenon described in the OP appears there on Wikipedia. To some extent, the same goes for your other two links: they seem to pertain more to stuttering than to forgetting, which doesn't seem to be at the root of stuttering so much as a false sense that one has made an error in speech. Did I miss some link between memory and that false sense of error in your latter links? Or might you be reinterpreting the OP? The OP seems happy anyway; might forgetting not really be important here? – Nick Stauner Jan 16 '14 at 22:50
Nick, concerning memory, you're right, I was reinterpreting. DAF makes speech very difficult, and is highly distracting. I was assuming the OP was referring to this effect, and not a memory phenominon. – Kyler Brown Jan 16 '14 at 23:06

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