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Frontiers in the News: A Novel Case of Musical Hallucinations

Two neurologists from Illinois report a unique case of musical hallucinations that they say raises “intriguing” questions regarding memory, forgetting, and access to lost memories.


The 60-year-old woman, with a history of bilateral sensory-neural hearing loss and tinnitus, reported hearing music one night while trying to fall asleep. She said it was like a radio playing at the back of her head. Within 4 months, she was hearing music all the time. She would hear 1 song over and over for 3 weeks, than another song.

What’s novel about this case, say Danilo Vitorovic, MD, and José Biller, MD, from the Department of Neurology, Stritch School of Medicine, Loyola University, Maywood, Illinois, is that the songs she heard were popular tunes that her husband recognized when she sang or hummed them, but she herself could not identify them.

“She could actually hum the tunes and retrieve the lyrics to an extent of nonrecognizable songs,” Dr. Biller noted in an interview with Medscape Medical News. “That to us was unique.”

Read the Mescape news report here. Media coverage also includes a blog post from Scope Medical Blog, published by Stanford Medicine, and Discovery News. The clinical case study, published in Frontiers in Neurology, can be found here.

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