Woman with rare malady unable to hear words, but can hear sounds

09/30/2013 | LiveScience.com

A woman undergoing treatment for HIV developed a rare temporary condition that left her unable to hear words, though she could read and speak normally and hear nonword sounds, according to a report in the journal JAMA Neurology. The condition, known as pure word deafness, is caused by lesions on the portion of the brain responsible for language, called Wernicke's area. After steroid treatment, the woman recovered her normal hearing and was once again able to understand words.

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