Tiffany Roberts, an American woman who had a stroke, now has a British accent, despite the fact that she’s never been to the U.K. The “foreign accent syndrome” is rare but not unknown.

Once she began speaking again after her stroke in 1999, Roberts says, “When people first started asking me where in England I was from, and a family member asked why am I talking that way, that is when I became very conscious that a part of me had died during the stroke.”

Researchers don’t know why or how this happens. Dr. Jack Ryalls says, “When [stroke victims] don’t recover or when they only have very, very residual effects left, it’s heard as an accent. Its a real phenomenon. It just hasn’t been documented very often.” These patients haven’t really gained a foreign accent?it just sounds that way, as a result of brain injury.

This was first documented in 1941, when a Norwegian woman received a shrapnel injury to her brain during an air raid that left her with a German accent.

If someone on your Christmas list is ill, give them healing music.

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