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On the Brain
January 13, 2020

Overcoming Neurophobia With the Help of Peruvian Talking Bears

Author Affiliations
  • 1Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 2Department of Neurology, Washington University in St Louis, St Louis, Missouri
  • 3Department of Medicine (Neurology), University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
JAMA Neurol. 2020;77(3):291-292. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2019.4668

A juvenile Peruvian bear, of the species Tremarctos ornatus,1 presented to the emergency department after being found unconscious at 32 Windsor Gardens, London, England.2 The bear had been struck in the left posterior head region by a returning boomerang. On assessment, he demonstrated retrograde amnesia and language-related symptoms. When offered a bun, one of the patient’s favourite things to eat, he replied by asking, “What’s a bun?” Later, he demonstrated a pattern of repetitive behavior in which he forced air through pursed lips to generate a “phew” sound. Finally, the patient attempted to request a cup of tea, but was unable to produce the name of the desired item. These deficits persisted for 24 hours and then resolved completely.

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