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5 Live presenter Shelagh Fogarty meets the Liverpool grandmother with a rare syndrome which means she hears music all day and all night. And Chris Jackson investigates the differences in how councils across the north are imposing their budget cuts.

Release date:

29 minutes

Last on

Mon 17 Dec 2012 19:30
BBC One North West

Musical Ear Syndrome

Musical Ear Syndrome

Shelagh Fogarty meets the 84-year-old Liverpool grandmother with a rare syndrome which means she hears music all day and all night.


Cath Gamester has Musical Ear Syndrome, a condition resulting in musical hallucinations.


Watch a video feature on the BBC News website.

Managing musical hallucinations

Managing musical hallucinations

Cath Gamester, 84, hears music on a constant loop throughout the day.


She has musical ear syndorme, a rare condition which affects about one in 10,000 people over 65 in the UK.


Read the full story on the BBC News website.

Fact file: Musical Ear Syndrome

  • MES is a form of auditory hallucination which involves hearing music when none is being played
  • Hearing phantom sounds such as buzzing or ringing is known as tinnitus
  • In a small number of people however, these experiences can be more complex and emotive, and music can be heard
  • Musical hallucinations are typically heard as short fragments of simple melodies from the individual's youth, especially hymns and carols
  • Commonly heard songs include Happy Birthday, Silent Night and Abide With Me
  • One hypothesis is that when a person's world becomes too quiet, the brain manufactures its own sounds based on auditory memories
  • MES is more common in women, the over 60s, individuals who live alone and those with sudden hearing loss - the most common and easily treatable cause


Role Contributor
Series EditorDeborah Van Bishop
PresenterTony Livesey
ReporterShelagh Fogarty
ReporterChris Jackson

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