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No. 136: JUL-AUG 2001

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Songs In Your Head

Aneurysms occur when the wall of a blood vessel weakens and bulges outward. They can be very dangerous but in some cases they produce bizarre side effects. Take, for example, this case of a 61-year-old woman.

The woman's symptoms began with nausea, fatigue and then disorientation. Then, after a year, she began hearing music in the forms of songs she knew. The music was peristent but kept changing.

In December, it involved Christmas songs, for example. The songs were ones the woman learned when she was young.

She had no obvious physical problems that might explain the hallucinations. The woman naturally went to a psychiatrist, but to no avail. Finally, repeated MRI examinations revealed two small brain aneurysms. When these were corrected surgically, the music stopped.

(Nagourney, Eric; "A Song in Your Head Can Turn Deadly," New York Times, April 24, 2001. Cr. M. Piechota.)

Comment. Just how can the pressure from slightly bulging blood vessels cause someone to hear songs stored in one's memory?

From Science Frontiers #136, JUL-AUG 2001. 2001 William R. Corliss

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