Wait, can 'deep brain stimulation' make anyone like Johnny Cash?
Most of us can agree that Johnny Cash is one of the greatest recording artist of all time, right? Well for one 60 year old Dutch man it took a ‘deep brain stimulation’, before he fell in love with the man in black’s music. Mr B, as he’s known, was suffering from a very severe form of obsessive compulsive disorder, his condition was so extreme that doctor’s decided to try and treat him using deep brain stimulation.
You WILL Like Johnny Cash
For the treatment, Mr B received stimulation targeted at his nucleus accumbens, the area of the brain which is believed to control how we perceive pleasure, but when it malfunctions, it can also be the cause of addictive and obsessive behaviours. Mr B had electrodes implanted into his brain for the procedure, which when connected to an external power source, sent patterned waves of electricity to help decrease his anxiety.
After six weeks Mr B found his condition had greatly improved and the treatment was deemed a success. But in the following six months, the 60 year old reported one very interesting side effect. He'd begun to develop a great love for the music of Johnny Cash.
It all started one day when Mr B happened to hear ‘Ring of Fire’ on the radio. The report states that “From this moment on, Mr B kept listening simply and solely to Johnny Cash and bought all his CDs and DVDs.” The 60 year old's new found love for Cash quickly turned into an obsession and he reported “feeling like a hero in a movie”, when listening to the country legend. His favourite songs were ‘Fulsom Prison Blues’, ‘Ring of Fire’ and ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down’.
But even more curiously, eventually Mr B’s love for Cash began to wane, but this was only when his treatment came to an end. The patient reported that when the treatment was over, his musical tastes went back to what they’d been before, the Rolling Stones and a few Dutch singers.
So did the treatment turn Mr B into a Johnny Cash fan? Well Dr Ali Rezai, a neurosurgeon from Ohio State University told The Guardian that perhaps Mr B always had the potential to be a Johnny Cash fan, but it was something that could only emerge when his disorder was being suppressed. “Whereas before, his severe anxiety meant he was not able to connect with music,” said the surgeon, “afterwards it could become rewarding for him. His brain wasn't functioning normally before.” He then added, “I don't know why he had a particular predilection for Johnny Cash, maybe it has a certain rhythm.”
Who really knows what makes us feel an affinity towards a certain artist, maybe we could all be stimulated to enjoy different types of music which we’d previously ignored. But certainly, the case of Mr B is very interesting indeed and maybe the next time someone tells you they just don't like Johnny Cash, you could tell them they might need their brain stimulated.