Ever been tempted to smash someone for slurping their soup in prehistoric fashion, or if loud mouth breathers tick you off in the movie theater, it’s not your fault: you may have a simple brain abnormality!
Don’t worry, Misophonia sounds worse than it is. It’s a disorder in which the person feels strong vitriol towards sounds like eating, chewing, loud breathing, and even repetitive pen-clicking.
Since it was named as a condition in 2001, scientists have been wary as to whether it truly is a medical ailment – until now. New research conducted by a research team at U.K.’s Newcastle University have concluded people with misophonia have a dissimilar frontal lobe in their brain compared to those without the condition.
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Published in the journal Current Biology, scientists revealed scans of misophobia, and the changes in brain activity when they were ‘triggered’ through irritating sound. Brain imaging showed the people have an abnormality in their emotional control mechanics, shifting their brain into frantic high gear upon hearing annoying sounds. They also found trigger sounds could provoke physiological responses too, noting increased heart rate and sweating in the study’s participants.
For the study, the team measured brain activity through MRI, giving them a range of sound categorizations to document, from neutral sounds (rain, busy cafés, water boiling) to unpleasant ones, and triggering ones.
“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.”
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“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,” added Dr Sukhbinder Kumar, from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University and the Wellcome Trust Centre for NeuroImaging at University College London.
“This study demonstrates the critical brain changes as further evidence to convince a skeptical medical community that this is a genuine disorder.”