The Phoenix

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

She's Not Possessed, She Has Brain Damage!

Tiffany Noelle Roberts was born in Indiana and spent much of her adult life in Sarasota, Florida. In 1999, she suffered a stroke which left her paralyzed and unable to speak. During her recovery, she was able to finally move her muscles and speak again...only now she spoke with an English Accent.

This condition is called Foreign Accent Syndrome, a rare neurological condition caused by lesions and damage on certain parts of the brain. With those areas that control language and speech slightly damaged, the patient's entire speech pattern can be altered.

Ms. Roberts not only speaks with a distinctive English accent (a mix of English Cockney and West County), but the pitch and her pronounciation of words has changed as well. When researchers listened to previous audio recordings of her voice, they noticed immediately she used to speak in a much lower pitch and her Midwestern/Southern accent was deep. Although physically, Ms. Roberts has recovered very well, emotionally it's been a different story.

"People in America accuse me of lying when I say I was born in Indiana. They would say 'What are you saying that for? Where in England are you from?' I would insist that I am not." Ms. Roberts has become reclusive, as her neighbors have pretty much ostracized her, thinking she was faking an English accent to sound posh.

Interestingly, Ms. Roberts even uses British slang terms like "loo" and "bloody." She has never been to England and never knew anyone from England prior to her stroke. Oxford scientists are still trying to figure out the nature of Foreign Accent Syndrome, but they have already confirmed that after brain trauma, it is possible for a person to pick up an accent without having had any exposure to that accent.

The first documented case of Foreign Accent Syndrome was in 1941 in Norway. She had brain trauma from shrapnel during an air raid. After her recovery, she spoke with a very thick German accent and was likewise ostracized by her people.

This kind of neurological brain disorder is so strange, and I wondered what other kinds of disorders are out there. What I found was that some of these make Foreign Accent Syndrome seem more like lunch at the park. Take a look:

Alien Hand Syndrome: Damage to the right hemisphere can "disconnect" the left hand. In other words, patients don't have conscious control of their left hand anymore. One patient was reported to say that his left hand wanted to take over, and the guy would literally yell and violently hit his own hand. My suggestion would be to have someone with Alien Hand Syndrome over for dinner...it should be a smashing good time. His right hand would pick up the roll, but his left hand would try to stuff a turkey leg down his throat. Let the battle of hands begin!

Cotard's Syndrome: This type of brain disorder is when a person has the delusion that he is a walking corpse. He may even say that he can smell his own flesh rotting. Damage to the right temporal lobe is thought to be the cause of this affliction. While in line at Wal-Mart a couple days ago, this old guy next to me must've had some nasty case of gingivitis...and I SWEAR his flesh really was rotting. I don't think he had Cotard's Syndrome, though. He just smelled bad.

Kluver-Bucy Syndrome: What do you get when there's damage to the front of the temporal lobe and the amygdala just below? You get a really horny patient that loves to hump inanimate objects! Patients with this neurological disorder are unable to distinguish what any object might be used for. Although this syndrome is associated with hypersexuality, it really isn't a purely sexual disorder. A person with this illness might easily try to eat a table or have sex with a statue. Actually, it might be more fun to invite someone with Kluver-Bucy Syndrome to dinner...but maybe not at my house. I don't want some guy having sex with MY refrigerator.

23 Comments:

Blogger FantasticAlice said...

Fascinating info! I had heard of the Alien hands but not of the foreign speak (and I was a psych major) Good stuff! Also, it is nice to see someone with a brain that lives in St. Charles.

10/11/2005 4:11 PM  
Blogger KC said...

Oliver Sachs has a wonderful series of books on the subject of brain damage and/or disorders. If you've not read any of his stuff, start with "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat & other Clinical Tales". Fascinating stuff!

10/11/2005 4:16 PM  
Blogger KC said...

It would help if I spelled his last name correctly: Sacks, not Sachs as I typo'd earlier.

10/11/2005 4:17 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

It's a little unnerving realizing just how vulnerable your whole entire "being" is inside that brain of yours.

This doesn't even include all the psychoses that's out there...it's amazing that anyone is actually sane.

Maybe we're all just in different degrees of mental or neurological illnesses.

10/11/2005 5:21 PM  
Blogger Pixie said...

LMAO @ "Ms. Roberts has become reclusive, as her neighbors have pretty much ostracized her, thinking she was faking an English accent to sound posh." Cockney and West County are among the least "psh" english accents.
But that is really odd the way she uses "loo" and other English terms.

10/11/2005 5:50 PM  
Blogger Sherri said...

This is very interesting. I love stuff like this. I'm a big fan of the comic strip 'Dilbert'. Scott Adams (creator) suffers from something that has hampered with his drawing ability. Apparently his brain has shut off his ability to draw with his normal drawing hand. He can do pretty much everything else without any problems what-so-ever, even write.

10/11/2005 6:26 PM  
Blogger Ann Alsex said...

I only slur my words when I am drunk. Does that count as an accent?

10/11/2005 6:52 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

I thought Cockney and West County was the British dialect the Spice Girls used when they spoke. Am I wrong? It's sort of a "lower class" dialect. You can correct on that one Pixie.

Sherri, I had no idea about the Dilbert creator. Wow...that's pretty cool.

Ann, I am inclined to say...yes.

10/11/2005 7:30 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

So THAT's what it is! All my life I have attributed my dry-humping of bean bag chairs, clothes racks, and occassional passers-by to overactive hormones. Now I can blame Kluver-Bucy Syndrome.

Thank you, Dr. Phoenix. I can hump freely now ... and ask for workers' comp if I get too friendly with a well-polished conference table and fall off.

And Tiffany Noelle Roberts' accent "disorder" is indeed bizarre. Even more disturbing, at least to this observer, is the fact that she is a dead ringer for Vincent Furnier--better known to the rock world as Alice Cooper. Take another look and tell me I'm wrong!

-- d.a..

10/11/2005 8:11 PM  
Blogger siren said...

You may not want to invite someone with Kluvar-Bucy Syndrome over to your house, but what about someone with Kluvar-Bucy Syndrome AND Alien Hand Syndrome? They could hump your fridge and mop the floor at the same time. Funny...but useful!

10/11/2005 8:15 PM  
Blogger ObilonKenobi said...

I have never heard of any of these. Too funny. I laughed out loud at Alien Hand Syndrome. I am writing a new story and I think one of the characters needs to have on of these syndromes. Especially Alien Hand Syndrome since it's SciFi. I think the humping of inanimate objects syndrome is interesting too. My dog has it. I think a conversation between Alien Hand and Dry Humper should be an Olympic Sport! How un PC! I love it!

10/11/2005 8:16 PM  
Blogger MrV said...

What about fuckanythingitist....I have been suffering from that for some time now. Although the bennifit is, when you lower your standards you increase yor average.

10/11/2005 8:55 PM  
Blogger Eve said...

Oh, I would PAY to watch someone have sex with MY fridge?! Pop some popcorn and enjoy the show...

10/11/2005 9:07 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

David, Hump away...I guess. You are too funny, man. She REALLY does look like Alice Cooper.

Siren, I guess I can live with someone humping my fridge if they do some housework.

mrv, There are people that can help you with your condition...they're called doctors.

Crits, I just hate to see what they try to do with my water and ice dispenser.

10/11/2005 9:11 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

Oh man, I don't know what's more entertaining to read... the original post or the comments. This is some crazy shit.

10/12/2005 12:23 AM  
Blogger Grafs said...

I heard that the hands fighting is a result of damage to the corpus collosum: the membrane that separates the right and left hemispheres of the brain. Because the corpus collosum allows "communication" between the two hemispheres, damage would cause the right side of the body to not know what the left side is doing and vice versa. I don't know if this is true in this case or not.

10/12/2005 11:42 AM  
Blogger Nancyrowina said...

I've heard of a woman from yorkshire who just woke up one morning with a French accent, she had the same thing. It must have just been a really minor stroke that damaged nothing but that area of the brain, other than that she's fine.

10/12/2005 12:57 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

weirdgirl, the comments on here are ALWAYS so entertaining.

grafs, that's what I read too. There are only 40 documented cases of alien hand syndrome. It's like there are TWO separate streams of consciousness at once, and a person could literally be trying to overcome his own hand's will.

nancyrowena, I read about that case as well. She literally just woke up and spoke with a French accent. I believe she had visited France just before her mini-stroke, though.

10/12/2005 2:45 PM  
Blogger Josh said...

Wow, I don't know where to start. I always thought someone having a disorder like Tourette's would be bad, but these really take the prize. I wonder how many people have been burned at the stake or stoned over the ages because they exhibited some of these symptoms.

Any reports of a non-English speaking person getting Foreign Accent Syndrome?

10/12/2005 6:36 PM  
Blogger The Phoenix said...

Yeah, the first documented case was a woman from Norway speaking with a thick German accent after being injured by shrapnel...from a bomb...a GERMAN bomb.

She wasn't accepted after her recovery.

10/12/2005 9:07 PM  
Blogger Nancyrowina said...

In response to what you said about the Yorkshire woman, do you know how different a Yorkshire accent is from English spoken with a French accent? I saw the woman on telly, and I know how a woman of that age from that area would talk, and it is WEIRD. I know what you are getting at, it could be something she did subconciously and it's psychological, but if that were so surely she wouldn't sound as much like a French woman as she actually does. If you can't find a recording of her then you'll just have to trust me on it, but she really does sound like a french person speaking English now, and has absolutely no idea why, and no matter how much speech therapy they give her it won't go back.

10/13/2005 3:01 PM  
Blogger Jillian said...

LOL -- Those were pretty good. :-)

10/13/2005 5:18 PM  
Blogger Peter said...

I will try to beat that record (longest nipple hair. I will try to grow the longest nostril hair) Can anything else be more gross than that? :-)
Natural Remedies

10/17/2005 5:42 AM  

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Welcome to the blog that aims to examine the lighter side of science. From the paranormal to wacky inventions, to strange mysteries and goofy experiments, I cover it all. Thanks for stoping by blazingtalons.com...where science is always stranger than fiction







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