Lucie Deacon | Contributing Writer | Friday, 3 February 2017

Scientists Finally Work Out What Causes Misophonia

Scientists Finally Work Out What Causes Misophonia

The Debrief: We finally know why the sound of noisy eating fills us with rage

One thing that never fails to boil my blood is the sound of other people eating.  If you, like me, are pronounced a grumpy, hypersensitive git by your nearest and dearest upon hearing somebody crunch down on a packet of Walkers, then you might be comforted to know that misophonia IS A REAL THING.

Until very recently, there was a distinctive lack of research into misophonia due to a dismissive and apparently 'sceptical' attitude amongst scientists towards the condition. In fact, neuroscientist Vilaynur Ramachandran somewhat surprisingly said 'nobody had heard of the disorder' in 2011. 

However, clear evidence that misophonia is REAL has finally emerged. 

Following a recent study, scientists now believe that the intense eruption of anger misophonics experience is caused by a brain abnormality. Their brains are hardwired to produce an excessive emotional response to sounds like chewing, munching, and breathing that non-sufferers simply don’t get. 

Scientists scanned the brains of 20 misophonic volunteers and 22 people without the condition. Each participant listened to a range of noises, including trigger noises and neutral or unpleasant sounds. Both groups reacted to the neutral and unpleasant sounds in similar way. However, when the trigger sounds were played, the misophonics’ heart rates increased. 

The scans also revealed that they experienced heightened activity in the part of the brain which determines what we pay attention to. There were also abnormally high levels of connectivity to areas that are involved in emotion regulating. 

Dr Sukhbinder Kumar from Newcastle University said '[Misophonics] go into overdrive when they hear these sounds. The reaction is anger mostly, it's not disgust, the dominating emotion is the anger - it looks like a normal response, but then it is going into overdrive.'

Unfortunately there are currently no treatments for misophonia. 

So... in the meantime, could we all try to eat a little bit quieter? Pleaaase


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Tags: Life Is Shitty Sometimes, Science Says