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Misophonia: It's definitely in your head

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Cause of misophonia uncovered for the first time

Some of us cannot stand certain sounds. Some people become outraged when they hear certain sounds. Medically, hatred of certain sounds is called misophonia. Now researchers know why it happens and it definitely is all in your head and a real medical disorder.


A team of researchers led from Newcastle University uncovered the brain mechanism that causes people to shun certain sounds that might include the clicking of a pen, a whistle or even a yawn.

Tapping, slupring food or drink, papers rustling, sniffling and coughing are also sounds those with the conditon could having trouble coping with.

Misophinia can be so disruptive there are even online support groups for sufferers who describe feelings of panic, disgust when they hear certain sounds.

What causes misophonia?

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Researchers have pinpointed for the first time what happens in the brain from certain sounds that can send some people into varying degrees of visceral and physical responses.

The finding, published in the journal Current Biology, shows misophonia causes brain signals to ramp up as the result of changes in the frontal region of the brain - the area that controls emotion, motor function and impulses.

Researchers used brain imaging to uncover the mechanism that triggers the reaction. Sounds are annoying to some people because their brains are wired differently. to the frontal lobe takes a different pathway than usual causing an over the top response to a sound that doesn't both the rest of us.

They also discovered some people experience sweating and increased heart rate.

Dr Sukhbinder Kumar from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University and the Wellcome Centre for NeuroImaging at University College London (UCL) explained in a media release it is the first time the difference in brain structure has been pinpointed. "For many people with misophonia, this will come as welcome news."

The hope is that the finding might led to therapies to help people with emotional difficulties. Kumar also says the finding should convince the medial community hatred of certain sounds is a genuine medical disorder.