Neuroscience

Misophonia: A True Hatred For Certain Sounds

You're casually chomping away on some potato chips at your desk when you feel a pair of eyes giving you a death stare. Apparently you're being too noisy, because your co-worker is outraged. It seems like she's being unreasonable, but that may not be the case. People who have misophonia, or a "hatred of sound," suffer from an actual disorder.

Related: Why Do We Hate The Sound Of Nails On A Chalkboard?

Loud chewing is a common trigger for people with Misophonia.

Some Brains Can't Even

If you react with anger or disgust to certain trigger sounds, such as chewing, slurping, heavy breathing, snoring, sniffling, foot tapping, and typing, you might suffer from misophonia. Once coined a condition, new research has misophonia considered an actual disorder.

Related: Why Are Certain Sounds Scary?

In February 2017, a team of scientists lead by Newcastle University in the U.K. took brains scans of people with misophonia. When researchers played the trigger sounds, the subjects experienced "hyperactivity" and "abnormal functional connectivity" in the medial frontal, medial, parietal, and temporal regions of their brains. Some subjects also experienced an increased heart rate and sweating. Their study suggests that people with misophonia experience dramatic emotional and physical responses to commonly occurring sounds. The study does note that more research must be done to decide whether misophonia is a cause or consequence of atypical interoception.

Related: What Would Noises Sound Like On Other Planets?

Giving A Voice To The Annoyed

People with misophonia traditionally haven't received much sympathy from science, but these findings go a long way. Tim Griffiths, a professor of cognitive neurology at Newcastle University and UCL, admitted in a press release that he was once part of the skeptical community himself, until he saw patients in the clinic and "understood how strikingly similar the features are." Dr Sukhbinder Kumar, with the same universities, emphasized the importance of this study in the same press releases: "This study demonstrates the critical brain changes as further evidence to convince a skeptical medical community that this is a genuine disorder." Basically, that coworker's rage is the real deal. Maybe eat your potato chips somewhere else.

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Watch And Learn: Our Favorite Content About The Science Of Sounds

Misophonia And The Science Of Horrible Sounds

Smacking illicits a strong emotional response from some people—and not in a good way.

Why Are Certain Sounds Scary?

Horror movies often use "nonlinear sounds" that have the same characteristics as cries made by distressed animals.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Fear is an instinctual response that helped our ancestors to survive and reproduce. 01:22

  2. Your sense of hearing is never truly shut off, even when you're asleep. 02:33

  3. Scary movies tend to contain more nonlinear sounds, such as rapid frequency jumps and nonstandard harmonies. 03:46

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