Monday, November 03, 2008
From the journal Neuropsychologia is an article about a woman that suffers from phonagnosia. This is a very rare neurological disorder where the patient is not able to recognize anyone's voice. This might not sound like such a big deal, but imagine if you could not make out a loved one's voice EVER.
People who suffer from phonagnosia usually do so as a result of a stroke or brain damage. But this lady, only identified as K.H., has had the strange disorder since birth.
When she picks up the phone, she cannot recognize her family or friends, so they have to use a series of codes so she can identify them.
Recently, Dr. Brad Duchaine and Lucia Garrido of the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience did several interesting tests with K.H. to understand her disorder more. One test involved distinguishing emotional sounds - achievement/triumph, amusement, anger, disgust, fear, pleasure, relief, sadness and surprise.
K.H. could identify the emotional state of the person speaking 80%of the time, just like the control group. K.H. also did well on all music tasks, identifying famous tunes and discriminating between instruments. K.H. even says that she is able to enjoy and appreciate music, though she usually doesn’t recognize singers.
How weird is that?
Another test involved the group listening to famous people speak and identifying them. K.H. could only identify ONE voice - not Margaret Thatcher, David Beckham, or a bunch of other famous people from the U.K....just one person could still somehow etch their vocal magic onto K.H.'s brain:
The manly voice of 007 himself, Sean Connery.