Foreign Accent Syndrome: A Neurolinguistic Analysis

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    Foreign accent syndrome is a motor speech disorder that causes patients to start speaking their native tongue with an accent that sounds foreign in the ears of listeners. In this thesis, we give a clear neurolinguistic description of three subtypes of the syndrome, namely neurogenic FAS (which is the variant occurring after damage to the central nervous system), developmental FAS and psychogenic FAS (FAS in association with psychiatric disorder). On the basis of our analysis, we came to the following conclusions:

    1. the "segmental" (at level of the phoneme, a sound functioning the smallest distinctive entity) and "suprasegmental" characteristics (the level above the phoneme, e.g. comprising rhythm and intonation) associated with FAS do not allow for a straightforward diagnostic differentiation between the different subtypes: other (neurological or psychiatric) symptoms, as well as symptom onset, evolution and remission are often more informative to this respect.

    2. It looks like there is a fourth variant of FAS! When investigating our corpus we found that FAS was also described after jaw surgery. We decided to speak of an organic-mechanic FAS in these cases.

    3. The little brain (or the cerebellum) plays a non-negligible role in the pathophysiology of the disorder.

    4. FAS is a disorder of dual origin, demonstrating characteristics of executive and planning disorders. It has been frequently argued that FAS shows some important semiological resemblances to apraxia of speech (a planning disorder causing the patient to have difficulties in planning phonemes or phoneme sequences) and dysarthria (an executive disturbance causing the patient to have trouble with the execution of the planned sequences via the articulators). Speech of patients with apraxia of speech or dysarthria nevertheless seems more distorted than is the case for FAS patients. After comparison of the pathophysiology, segmental and suprasegmental characteristics of these disorders, we concluded that the similarities amongst the disorders find their neurobiological origin in a (functional or structural) disruption affecting the cortico-thalamo-striatopallidal tract. The damage is often directly involving motor cortex, insula, basal ganglia and the cerebellum.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • Bastiaanse, Yvonne, Supervisor
    • Mariën, Peter, Supervisor
    • Verhoeven, J.W.M., Supervisor, External person
    Award date18-May-2017
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Print ISBNs978-90-367-9714-6
    Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-9713-9
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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