Thursday, July 22, 2010

Who's Calling?

Phonagosia is rarity in on two fronts: 1) Very few people have the disorder, and 2) it's impacted immensely by technology. Even fewer people would ever know something was wrong outside of the period between 1876 and 1995.

1876 was the year the telephone was patented and 1995 was the year caller ID became widely available.

From NPR...
Royster has phonagnosia — or voice blindness — a very rare and very strange disorder. Like everyone else, phonagnosics can tell from the sound of your voice if you're male or female, old or young, sarcastic, upset, happy.

They just have no blooming idea who you are.

The part of the brain that allows people to distinguish things like age, gender and emotional content in a voice is different from the part of the brain that makes sense of whether or not the voice they're hearing has "personal relevance."

In phonagnosia, this part of the brain is damaged. This is why Royster never knows who's calling, even when the voice on the end of the line is his own mother.

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