Breathing

Chewing or breathing sounds make you seethe? Blame your brain

kid eating corn
kid eating corn

Some people find everyday sounds such as eating, drinking and breathing intensely annoying. People with this condition, called misophonia, have structural and functional differences in their brains, new data show.

For many people, the sounds of slurping coffee or crunching on an apple can be mildly annoying. But it can leave others seething. And their rage is very real, a new study finds. Certain sounds — especially eating, drinking and breathing — can boost activity in parts of the brain that deal with emotions. This can turn on a strong emotional reaction, leading to anger or anxiety.

For such people, the brain gives extra importance to certain sounds, says Sukhbinder Kumar. He’s a cognitive neuroscientist in England at Newcastle University’s medical school. What is not clear, he adds, is why only certain sounds trigger this reaction.

His team described its new findings February 2 in Current Biology.

This intense sensitivity to some sounds is called misophonia (Mees-oh-FOH-nee-uh). The term means “hatred of sound.” Researchers aren’t sure how common the condition is. One study of college students,…