After mouth-breathers, it’s the next most annoying thing at the dinner table – the loud chewer.
Why do we hate the sound of chewing? Turns out, there’s a scientific answer for that.
If you cringe at chewing, you may have misophonia, or a brain abnormality that creates “a hatred of sounds such as eating, chewing, loud breathing, or even pen-clicking,” TIME reports.
First coined in 2001, the medical community never gave much credence to the condition’s legitimacy. But recent research published in the journal Current Biology, has proven that such noises can ruin lives.
A team at Newcastle University in the U.K. examined MRI brain scans of those with and without misophonia while playing a range of sounds. These sounds included neutral (water boiling), unpleasant (babies crying), and triggers (chewing).
The results: The researchers noted significant changes in misophonia sufferers’ brain activity when they heard a “trigger sound.” It also caused sweat, and their heart rates to increase.
“I hope this will reassure sufferers,” Tim Griffiths, professor of Cognitive Neurology at Newcastle University and UCL, said in a press release. “I was part of the skeptical community myself until we saw patients in the clinic and understood how strikingly similar the features are.”
Dr. Sukhbinder Kumar, from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, agreed.
“For many people with misophonia, this will come as welcome news as for the first time we have demonstrated a difference in brain structure and function in sufferers,” she said. “This study demonstrates the critical brain changes as further evidence to convince a skeptical medical community that this is a genuine disorder.”
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