Accent impersonation could hold clues for brain injury therapy

Most of us have a friend who has an entire range of accents and funny voices at their disposal.

But it seems this skill isn’t just useful for entertaining pals; it could also hold clues for the treatment of people with brain injuries. A new study has looked at the parts of our brains we use when we impersonate regional accents or affect different voices. Researchers at Royal Holloway University asked a range of people (none of whom were professional impersonators), to recite the opening lines of a familiar nursery rhyme with their normal speaking voice and with an impersonated regional or foreign accent. Using an MRI scanner, researchers found that additional parts of the brain were active when people put on different voices. But how can this help people with acquired brain injuries? Lead author Carolyn McGettigan Ph.D. said the voice is a powerful channel for the expression of our identity, and that little is known about the parts of the brain which control our ‘vocal identity’. “Our aim is to find out more about how the brain controls this very flexible communicative tool, which could potentially lead to new treatments for those looking to recover their own vocal identity following brain injury or a stroke,” she explained. Read the full story here.
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