Brain Implant Turns Man Into Johnny Cash Fanatic

May 19, 2014 | Andy Cush

Discover magazine brings us the story of “Mr. B,” a Dutch man who suffered from severe anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Mr. B’s doctors gave him a brain-stimulation implant to treat his symptoms, and it worked:

Mr. B. reported he felt very confident, calm and assertive and he started to call himself “Mr. B. II”, the new and improved version of himself.

Then, the patient “Ring of Fire” on the radio, and everything changed.

…a half year after DBS surgery, Mr. B. stated that he was turning into a Johnny Cash fan. He had been listening to the radio, when he coincidentally heard “Ring of Fire” of the Country and Western singer and experienced that he was deeply affected by the song. Mr. B. started to listen to more songs of Johnny Cash and noticed that he was deeply moved by the raw and low-pitched voice of the singer

Soon, Cash ruled everything around B:

Mr. B. reported that he felt good following treatment with DBS and that the songs of Johnny Cash made him feel even better. From this moment on, Mr. B. kept listening simply and solely to Johnny Cash and bought all his CD’s and DVD’s… From the first time Mr. B. heard a Johnny Cash song, [all other music] has been banned.

And when the batteries to Mr. B’s implant ran out, so did his enthusiasm for Cash and his music:

His former musical taste reoccurred immediately when stimulation was interrupted due to battery depletion, suggesting a direct causal link between musical preference and stimulation of the accumbens.

What gives? Discover speculates that the implant may have activated some general appetite for music in Mr. B, and suggests that the fixation on Johnny Cash in particular may be an “inexplicable quirk of human life.”

But maybe he wasn’t being entirely unreasonable.