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Phonagnosia

November 27, 2008

Researchers report the case of a woman who can’t recognize voices over the phone.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Do you recognize my voice? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

What if you couldn’t even recognize your own child’s voice? That’s what a patient known as "K. H." struggles with. Doctoral student Lucia Garrido of University College London says K. H. is the first person known to have been born with a disability called phonagnosia.

LUCIA GARRIDO (University College London):
She could not recognize people on the phone, she could not recognize even her daughter on the phone, she could not recognize singers and she really appreciates music. She just could not recognize people when she was not seeing them.

HIRSHON:
But the researchers found that she could do related things, like recognize anger or sadness in voices. The researchers say that studying K. H. will help them understand how voice recognition works in the brain, but they need more people like her. So if you don’t find my voice, well, distinct, you might want to give them a call. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the Science Society.