In 1929, Otfried Foerster, a German neurosurgeon, was operating on a man when he got a rather strange reaction from the man. The patient, who was conscious at the time, was suddenly compelled to say many puns.
Each pun related to the previous one and followed immediately after it. The reaction was the effect of the operators prodding at the tumor in the man’s brain. As the operators spoke to one another, the patient picked up some of their words and began making puns using associated sounds in the words.
Every time the operators said something different, the patient began a new stream of puns. Interestingly, all the puns had to do with knifes and butchery. His puns were darkly humorous considering that knives and instruments were prodding his brain at the time.
In a report of the incident, Arthur Koestler named the “compulsive punning” the patient exhibited as Forester’s syndrome after the surgeon doing the procedure. Considering the strangeness of Forester’s syndrome, it’s easy to see that the way our brains work are varied and very touchy. It’s incredible what our brains enable us to do!