My husband has one of those jobs that careers advisors rarely steer school-leavers towards. He’s a voice-over, and you’ve probably heard him extolling the virtues of some product or other on your TV or radio.
I was a little surprised (and delighted) this morning to open up my copy of the British Psychological Society’s magazine, The Psychologist, and find a voice-over (sorry, voice artist) featured on the centre pages.
Impressionist Duncan Wisbey has been taking part in research led by Professor Sophie Scott of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. She wanted to discover exactly what happens in his body and brain when he’s switching seamlessly from a Jools Holland to a Peter Snow, or from an Essex to an Esher accent.
It seems that the different parts of the brain associated with visual imagery and bodily representations light up when Duncan takes on a well-known persona. When he’s doing accents, areas of the brain concerned with the sounds themselves kick in.
Professor Scott hopes that the study could contribute to techniques used by speech and language therapists, and may help those who have suffered a stroke to regain speech facility in the future. If Professor Scott is looking for more voice-overs to continue her creative research, I may have just the person for her.
For more information, here’s an article in the Times online about the study.