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Woman with Migraine Wakes with French Accent

A grandmother who went to bed suffering from a migraine was amazed to wake up speaking with a French accent. Kay Russell, 49, is now left with a voice that is unrecognizable to family and friends. Doctors say she has Foreign Accent Syndrome, a condition which damages the part of the brain that controls speech and word formation.

Kay RussellMrs Russell has suffered from migraines for 20 years.

Their effects are normally limited to temporarily paralyzing her limbs and causing slurred speech. But since January 4 this year, she has not spoken with her natural accent.

After one bad migraine, she was left with slurred speech for two weeks and made an appointment to have an MRI scan and see a neurologist. Then one day she simply woke up with a French accent.

‘As a sufferer of this syndrome you are not trying to speak in an accent, it is a speech impediment,’ Mrs Russell said. …

‘My facial muscle movements are different, the inclination is different and the pronunciation.

‘It also affects my hands and makes me write with a foreign accent. For example, I say peoples not people and that is how I would write it.’ …

via Gran Kay Russell goes to bed with migraine and wakes with French accent

Is it real? It appears to be.

Although it’s extremely rare, it’s a real condition. Only about 100 people have been diagnosed with this condition since the first known case came to light in 1907.

Some examples of FAS include an Australian woman who developed a French-sounding accent after a car accident. In 2018, an American woman in Arizona woke up one day with a mixture of Australian, British, and Irish accents after falling asleep the night before with a headache.

It doesn’t just affect English speakers. FAS can happen to anyone and has been documented in cases and languages all over the world. …

(HealthLine)

What might trigger it?

… cases have been reported in the popular media as resulting from various causes including stroke, allergic reaction, physical injury, and migraine. (Wikipedia)

Can it be reversed?

It depends. Since it is usually caused by an injury to the part of the brain that controls speech, it can sometimes be reversed, like any other brain damage. There was one case I found where it reversed, a case of tumors of the nasopharynx involving all or most unilateral cranial nerves without involving the brain.

An English speaking women developed a French accent, without any aphasic syndromes, in conjunction with multiple left sided cranial nerve deficits, temporally related to cranial trauma. Extensive testing with multimodality magnetic resonance imaging, cerebrospinal fluid and laboratory analysis was unremarkable. She was followed over a 3 year period during which her French accent resolved as did the majority of her multiple unilateral cranial neuropathies. The neurological diagnoses included a foreign accent syndrome attributed to a reversible Garcin syndrome. (Paperity)

Brain Damage Reversed

There is a known case where brain damage in a toddler who drowned was reversed with oxygen therapy:

Fifty five days after the drowning accident, doctors started giving Eden normobaric oxygen for 45 minutes twice per day. …

After 78 days, Eden began HBOT therapy, with 45 minute sessions five days per week for four weeks. After 10 sessions, her mother said she was almost back to normal other than motor function. After 39 sessions—coupled with physical therapy—Eden was able to walk and her speech had returned to normal. Her cognitive abilities had improved and motor function was almost restored to pre-drowning levels.

An MRI scan a month after the 40th HBOT session showed almost complete reversal of the brain damage initially recorded. Researchers believe the oxygen therapy, coupled with Eden having the developing brain of a child, had activated genes that promote cell survival and reduce inflammation—allowing the brain to recover. The case report is published in the journal Medical Gas Research. (Newsweek)

Very interesting. It can be fun to talk with a foreign accent at times, but no one would want to be stuck doing so without the option to stop. Hopefully brain rehabilitation will help people with FAS to recover and to return to their previous normal speech patterns.

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Sam
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Sam

I’m really starting to like you, Cheng.

Ann
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Ann

Cheng, while you’re visiting Dean’s site, if you do, check out “Compassion for skeptics,” July 31,2010. A post where Radin, a parapsychologist, relates an apparently inadvertent confrontation with a magician, James Randi, the father of the million-dollar-give-away-if-you-can-prove-it prize, via a commentator, who remained anonymous.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

http://deanradin.blogspot.com/2010_07_01_archive.html

Ann
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Ann

Also, Cheng, if you’re interested and have not seen it, Dean Radin website is below. I think it’s quite remarkable that he openly discusses topics with his commentators. Something others authors, I’m sure, wouldn’t dare do. One of his recent posts he talks about the Ganzfeld experiments:

September 13, 2010
Ganzfeld telepathy example

http://deanradin.blogspot.com/2010/09/ganzfeld-telepathy-example.html

Ann
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Ann

Cheng, I don’t know if this relates to your comment, nevertheless: An often quoted phrase from William James is: “The [human] baby, assailed by eyes, ears, nose, skin, and entrails at once, feels it all as one great blooming, buzzing confusion …” It’s found in his Principles of Psychology (1890s) (in a chapter on how the human mind associates and dissociates, synthesizes and analyzes – I think). We, as adults, are also so “assailed” by external stimuli bombarding our senses, but we, well most of us, have learned to focus on a thought. Yet, there is, at the same time,… Read more »

Cheng
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Cheng

Ann, you presume too much. That my normal state of sobriety is ‘sober’ and that I am quick witted enough to imagine near instantaneous images in my mind. However, I’m not sure I fully agree with your reasoning. The brain (mind) isn’t that great at concentrating on more than one thing at a time (bearing in mind I’m talking from a male perspective and walking and chewing gum don’t come easy). I think you are right about us having a whirl wind of thoughts in our heads that mean little and don’t interfere with our interaction with the environment. But… Read more »

Ann
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Ann

Xeno, I found this article: “Apparitions and Kindred Phenomena: their relevance to the psychology of paranormal belief and experience” by Tony R. Lawrence in: Hauntings and poltergeists: multidisciplinary perspectives by James Houran and Rense Lange, eds. (McFarland, 2001) Besides believers, people who are creative apparently also score higher on chance ESP tests. Lawrence writes about a specific study by Charles Honorton, who created the Ganzfield experiments (or sensory deprivation experiments) while working on dreams at the at the Maimonides Medical Center during the 1970s. Schlitz and Honorton (1992) “found a stunning 50% hit rate [i.e. positive scores in chance tests]… Read more »

Ann
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Ann

Xeno, I don’t know. I’ll have to look into it. A thoughtful comment, Cheng. Thanks. You’re probably right about my rare flashes of foresight, if that’s what they are, are longer than a few milliseconds. But, they’re as fast and as enduring though I were to ask you, during a normal state sobriety, to imagine or mentally visualize a satellite orbiting the moon, or some other specific scene. You could probably conjure up a mental picture nearly instantaneously without much loss of the awareness of your immediate external environment, and it would occur beyond the notice of other people around… Read more »

Cheng
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Cheng

Ann, thank you for your considered reply. I don’t think I have decided anything. I try not to take anything at face value, so I suppose I do need convincing. I guess I am predisposed to lean towards the logical explanation side of things rather than make huge leaps of faith, but that is how it should be, surely. The brain, I think it’s agreed, is the most complex organic structure we know. It grows organically from an imperfect blue print. It is so complex, that every one is probably unique. Like the most complex machines, I doubt that it… Read more »

Ann
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Ann

I found this obit by Charles T. Tart where he talks about the original creator of the believer/non-believer experiment, which has been replicated numerous times (even by Susan Blackmore, I’ve read elsewhere): Pioneering Parapsychologist Gertrude Schmeidler Has Died Dr. Charles T. Tart on May 5th, 2009 …. Gertrude Schmeidler, died last month (1912-2009). …. Gertrude made one of the most important discoveries ever in parapsychology, one with strong spiritual implications and one which I think none of the spiritual traditions knows about, for while it’s something that can happen in everyday life, it’s pretty much unobservable except under laboratory conditions.… Read more »

Ann
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Ann

Well, Cheng, I really don’t want to convince you one way or the other. I was merely curious about the extent of your skepticism. If you want to read up on parapsych, there’s nothing stopping you. I suggest Dean Radin. He is quite prolific on the subject. But, I doubt you will. That’s the problem, you see, that occurs when we “decide” so-and-so is what it is. That’s not being “open minded” I once had a friend, a PhD-prof. (no, not in parapsych. or psych.) in the U.S., who was quite active in her field and who was born and… Read more »

Cheng
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Cheng

Like I said. You have nothing!

Sepp
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No, I won’t try. You’ve got your mind well made up already.

Cheng
Guest
Cheng

But you still have nothing to help persuade me otherwise?

Sepp
Guest

Dara O’Brian might be funny as a stand-up comedian, and he certainly has an agenda! Good luck to you …

Cheng
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Cheng

On behalf of the British people, I would like to apologise for our sense of humour. From Benny Hill to Little Britain, I am so sorry. Ann, I do honestly try to keep an open mind about most things. But all my life I’ve been told things are fact that simply don’t stand up to scrutiny. Religion, the paranormal, santa claus, UFO’s, you name it. Not a single shred of hard evidence has been offered, to me anyway, to back it up. Now’s your chance. What progress has been made in parapsychology in the last century, that isn’t heresay or… Read more »

Ann
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Ann

Yeah, it’s British humor/insult as only the British can do: “Dutch concert” refers to a state of chaos or pandemonium; the well-loved expression in the States “going Dutch,” or “Dutch treat,” meaning sharing the expenses or each pays his/her own fare.

But, I think parapsychology has made some progress in the last 100 years, although it seems many people have taken up the extreme skeptical side of the discussion, which has had far more media attention. It’s like the global warming issue, scientists are not the best at PR, and suffer as a consequence.

Cheng
Guest
Cheng

Well done Ann. Parapsychologists – get in the fecking sack. Susan Blackmore, I note, is no longer in the field. Presumably, she has done her time in the sack. This sort of thing is a hedge better for governments without conviction. They give a few million of tax payers money, just in case there’s something in it. Scientists run with it because it is undoudtedly interesting, but of course, never come back with anything concrete. They only turn up for the next round of grants and to give long winded talks on how close they are to achieving. It’s this… Read more »

Ann
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Ann

Now, now, Cheng, aren’t we being a bit extreme? Sounds almost (James) Randistic to me. So, what’s your take on the field of parapsychology, which includes the likes of Susan Blackmore as well as Dean Radin?

(Oh, sorry to read about your wife. It’s curious you describe her speech as “double Dutch,” a phrase that arose during an era when the Brits and the Dutch were less than fond of each other. Got something against the Dutch, too?)

Cheng
Guest
Cheng

Reality? What reality are you speaking of?What hard, unequivocal evidence do you have of spiritual infestation of the human body?
I’m with the Dara O’Briain school of teaching. All clairvoyents, spiritualists, priests, fortune tellers, astrologers et al of this ilk, should be put in a large sack and beaten with big sticks till they see sense and stop perpetuating this bollocks.

Sepp
Guest

I don’t think I suggested exorcism.

The concept of spirit inhabiting a body might be foreign, but we better deal with it.

That particular reality is not going to go away just because we close our eyes to any such possibility.

In any case… the lady seems not to be too unhappy with her new situation.

Cheng
Guest
Cheng

You’re suggesting, perhaps, that Kay could have her french accented (not French speaking though) spirit exorcised? Her normally dominant spirit has, in some way, lost the struggle to retain control of the human shell which they all co-habit.
Yep Sepp, that’s way too foreign for me.
The only spiritual thing about humans is there ability to come up with bizarre notions to explain things they don’t understand.

Sepp
Guest

‚ÄòYou lose your identity and an awful lot about yourself. I feel like I come across as a different person.‚Äô I think she said it right here. She hit [the situation] on the head. In my view, what they call “foreign accent syndrome” isn’t an illness in a medical sense. It is simply a different person taking charge of the body. In Kay Russell’s case, that different person’s recent past has been to live in a french-speaking culture. Or is it too foreign a concept to say that we are composites, spiritual beings actually inhabiting a human body, and that… Read more »

Patrick
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Patrick

I read that Foreign Accent Syndrome is a bit erroneous because what’s really going on is witnesses interpreting a brain-damaged person’s voice as a foreign accent. Slurring? Mumbling her vowels? She’s Norwegian!
Or drunk.

Cheng
Guest
Cheng

I think my wife has this. She speaks with a completely incomprehensible double dutch accent.

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