Misophonia

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,…

Do Certain Sounds Enrage You? Neurologists May Know Why

If the sound of a co-worker repeatedly clicking his pen can send you into a flaming furor, take heart: You’re not being hypersensitive, and you’re not alone. Neurologists in the UK have spotted physical differences in the brains of people with this sound-related rage, although whether these differences are the cause or the result of the disorder remains to be seen. The scientists published their findings in the journal Current Biology.

The technical term for that noise-triggered irritation and rage is misophonia (“hatred of sound”). People who have it experience uncontrollable and intense negative emotions after hearing certain repetitive noises like chewing, lip-smacking, pen-clicking, and foot-tapping.

It’s a relatively new concept within the medical community, although people have been complaining of symptoms for a long time. To those who’ve never experienced misophonia, it may sound silly or made-up—which is what many doctors have concluded. Others have categorized it as a form of anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The authors of the current paper wondered if the problem might not be psychological but neurological. They recruited 20 British adults with misophonia and 22…