A Texan woman has been diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome, a neurological disorder that makes her speak British English. Lisa Alamia developed the rare condition after she had a mandible surgery in December. The syndrome has been detected in less than 100 people within the last century.

Alamia had an overbite correction at the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital. She is the mother of three children who were surprised when they first heard her new British accent. Physicians thought at first that some physical alteration caused her accent.

Foreign accent syndrome
Lisa Alamia was diagnosed with Foreign Accent Syndrome, a neurological disorder that makes her speak British English. Credit: ABC News

Months passed, and the 33-year-old woman didn’t notice a change. She decided to visit neurologist Toby Yaltho, as reported by The Washington Post (WP). The expert determined she had developed the Foreign Accent Syndrome.

Dr. Yaltho said that Alamia’s case was fascinating and uncommon. The disorder has been evidenced in people from all regions of the world.

“Most neurologists work their entire careers and never come across Foreign Accent Syndrome,” he told the WP. 

The Texan told ABC News she was impressed and confused when she received a diagnosis. Researchers have estimated that 86 percent of cases are related to brain damage in speech centers. Another percentage develops the syndrome due to psychological reasons.

What caused Alamia to develop the Foreign Accent Syndrome remains a mystery

Foreign Accent Syndrome was first noted in 1907 by Pierre Marie. According to the University of Texas at Dallas, it is majorly caused by strokes or traumatic brain injury. Medical documents have registered changes in accents from Japanese to Korean, British English to French, and others.

“People who don’t know me, they’re like, ‘Hey, where are you from? ‘I’m from Rosenberg. They’re like, ‘Where is that?’ I’m like, ‘Right here in Rosenberg.’ ‘Oh, you’re from here? How do you talk like that?’ So that’s where the whole story comes up,” said Alamia, according to Khou.

Unlike most people, Alamia didn’t develop the syndrome as a consequence of stroke or seizure. Dr. Yaltho carried out Magnetic resonance imaging and electroencephalogram and didn’t find any signals of abnormal brain waves, said the WP.

Alamia has been working over the last six months to recover her American accent

Scientists have not found a cure for Foreign Accent Syndrome. Some patients have the neurological disorder for years, although it may be permanent in some cases. Alamia is currently attending speech therapists to recover her American accent.

According to Dr. Yaltho, we might never be able to understand what causes Foreign Accent Syndrome. According to Alamia, she has never traveled to the United Kingdom, neither she has been in contact with British people.

Alamia said that her new accent often impresses her friends who first thought she was faking it. Dr. Yaltho concluded that the syndrome was not caused by her jaw surgery. The Texan hopes to have her accent back in six months. Alamia’s neurologist assures that she is not faking her accent. Some patients may be cured by using anti-anxiety drugs.

Source: The Washington Post