Oregon Woman Wakes From Surgery With Weird Accent

Karen Butler believed to have rare 'foreign accent syndrome'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2011 4:20 AM CDT

(Newser) – Oregon native Karen Butler woke up from dental surgery with an accent that's not from Oregon—or anywhere else in the world. Butler, 56, who experts believe may be a victim of the rare but real condition "foreign accent syndrome," now speaks with an accent described as part Irish, part Scottish, and part northern English with touches of South African, Australian, and Transylvanian, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Only some 60 cases of the syndrome have been documented worldwide, including that of a British woman who developed a Chinese accent. Researchers believe it is caused by a small stroke hitting the tiny area of the brain that controls speaking patterns. "It's a very small part of the brain that controls the articulation and the intonation of speech that's affected, and that's why it's so rare," a Portland neurologist tells ABC News. "The chances to hit such a small area are more than a million-to-one in a stroke."

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