APR 28, 2015 5:07 PM PDT

The Power of Speech and Where it Comes From

WRITTEN BY: Robert Woodard
Rajagopal speaking on October 2, 2007 at the beginning of Janadesh 2007, a 350 km walk from Gwalior to Delhi by 25,000 people, India.Pericles had it. Abraham Lincoln had it. So did Winston Churchill, Martin Luther King, Clarence Darrow, Mahatma Gandhi, Lenny Bruce, Lawrence Olivier and JFK.

Willy Loman didn't have it.

The ‘gift of gab' is powerful. These "super speakers" seem to be able to effortlessly influence to people by simply talking. It is a power that many of us wish we had.

But where does that power come from? Are you born with it? Can you learn it in acting school? By joining Toastmasters?

Researchers at University College London think they may have found the "gift of gab" center in the human brain. After scanning the brains of people whose livelihood depends on talking-professional comedians, attorneys and radio personalities-they found that there are differences in the way the brains of these 'super speakers' work while talking.

Turns out that super speakers put less effort into the basic mechanics of speech and just let it flow, allowing more time to focus on what to say next.

In an interview with The Guardian, Dr Joe Devlin, a neuroscientist at University College London, said: "The fact that they show less activity there reflects the fact that they simply find speech less effortful and I suspect part of that has to do with practice."

Dr Devlin and his colleagues used magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brains of 17 professional comedians, a radio presenter and barrister.

Participants were asked to lie in the scanner while talking for 30 seconds on random topics without hesitation, deviation or repetition - a task based on the BBC 4 panel show Just a Minute.

The responses of these participants were compared against a control group of students.

The same areas of the brain were activated when both the comedians and the students were speaking. But the super speakers showed lower levels of activity in an area of the brain known as Broca's region.

[Source: dailymail.co.uk]
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