An unlearned foreign "accent" in a patient with aphasia

Neill R. Graff-Radford, William E. Cooper, Patricia L. Colsher, Antonio R. Damasio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Rarely, aphasics may develop what appears to be a foreign accent, as noted by Monrad-Kröhn whose Norwegian patient sounded German. We describe a right-handed native American who developed a foreign accent following damage to the left premotor region and white matter anterior to the head of the left caudate nucleus. Her aphasia was of the transcortical motor type. Both she and her parents were born in the USA, she never traveled outside the country and never learned a foreign language. Phonetic analysis of her voice taped prior to the stroke revealed normal speech with a midwestern accent. In contrast, analyses of her current spontaneous speech, repetition, and reading reveal (a) shifts in vowels, e.g., /I/→/i/, /æ/→/a/; (b) increased diphthonigization; and (c) tense speech posture. These features, which were especially frequent in spontaneous speech, probably explain her "accent." Acoustic analysis of fundamental frequency contours of sentences read in different emotional tones revealed a restricted range and variability of the peaks and valleys.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-94
Number of pages9
JournalBrain and Language
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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