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Can Brain Damage Give You A Foreign Accent?

We’ve all tried imitating foreign accents, but what if you couldn’t stop? What is foreign accent syndrome and why do some people have it?

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What is Foreign Accent Syndrome?

“To listeners, people with FAS sound like non-natives producing another culture’s take on a given language. But evidence suggests the ears of others might make new pronunciations seem more foreign than they really are. In essence, a woman with FAS who seems to speak English in a Scottish accent is unlikely to sound so to linguists.”

The Teenager Who Can’t Help Speaking in a French Accent

“Scans revealed that, compared with controls, the flow of blood to two parts of the boy’s brain were significantly reduced. One of these was the prefrontal cortex of the left hemisphere – a finding unsurprising to the team, as it is known to be associated with planning actions including speech. But the other region – the right side of the cerebellum – was unexpected. This part of the brain is known to be associated with coordinating actions, but was thought to be a more primitive region than the cortex.”

Developmental Foreign Accent Syndrome: Report of a New Case

“This paper presents the case of a 17-year-old right-handed Belgian boy with developmental FAS and comorbid developmental apraxia of speech (DAS). Extensive neuropsychological and neurolinguistic investigations demonstrated a normal IQ but impaired planning (visuo-constructional dyspraxia). A Tc-99m-ECD SPECT revealed a significant hypoperfusion in the prefrontal and medial frontal regions, as well as in the lateral temporal regions.”


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