The human brain is an amazing thing; no matter how much we study it, it always seems to be full of new surprises. This incredible story out of Australia is certainly just such an spectacular example of the wonder that is the brain.

At his high school, Ben McMahon was a student of Mandarin. Despite his aptitude for the language, he never became anything resembling fluent. However, a car crash and subsequent coma changed that completely.

After being in a serious car accident that nearly claimed his life, Ben McMahon awoke from his coma with a surprise that rocked the world of his understandably frantic parents; he spoke only fluent Mandarin. In fact, it wasn’t until several days had passed that he began to show any sign of regaining his ability to speak English. Although he did eventually get his English back, he never lost the Mandarin, which still appears to be there for good.

His fluency in Mandarin is so impressive that McMahon has been given the opportunity to use it in more than one public appearance. From providing Chinese visitors with Mandarin tours around Melbourne to hosting a Chinese television show, McMahon has certainly made a name for himself. He has even moved to Shanghai where he is studying at a university.

Of course, everyone has the same question on their mind; how does an injury and coma suddenly make a person fluent in a language? There are many scientific speculations, but the most prevalent one was suggested by a neurosurgeon named Dr. Pankaj Sah. According to Sah, the accident damaged the brain, which is essentially a conglomeration of electric circuits. He proposes that the damage triggered the increased activation of the circuits which had stored McMahon’s knowledge of Mandarin.

Regardless of the reason for this amazing incident, there’s no denying that McMahon’s story is just the most recent in a long line of examples of the truly breathtaking, mysterious nature of the brain.