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What Is Misophonia? Scientists Discover Why Some People Lash Out Over Sounds Of Eating Or Breathing

6 February 2017, 9:22 am EST By Antonio Manaytay Tech Times
UK scientists have discovered why some people lash out over sounds of someone chewing or a child crying. The research probed the inner recesses of the brain.  ( Joe Raedle | Getty Images )

This may be good news for misophonia sufferers, or people who are irked by everyday sounds. Scientists have discovered that that the condition is not mere dislike or hatred for some seemingly harmless sounds. The condition has its basis in the brain, and the discovery may lead to effective treatment.

A group of scientists in the United Kingdom have discovered that the anterior insular cortex (AIC) of the brain for misophonics becomes hyperactive when exposed to sounds like dripping of water or someone chewing. The AIC is the part of the brain that connects senses and emotions.

The study, published Feb. 2 in Current Biology, pointed out that the "trigger sounds" are almost a daily occurrence "makes misophonia a devastating disorder for sufferers and their families" as it noted that what causes the disorder baffled researchers in the past.

Misophonia, from miso (hatred) and phonia (sound) or simply "hatred of sound", was first acknowledged 20 years ago as a condition in which specific sounds trigger panic and negative emotions such as anxiety or anger.

What Causes Misophonia

People who are suffering from misophonia have experienced difficulty in their social life. Most of the time, these sufferers have to endure the feeling of being alienated by their co-workers and families for being very sensitive or hysterical.

Some sufferers tried to find their own remedy such as avoiding the places of "trigger sounds" or mask it with music.

The UK scientists at the different centers subjected 20 misophonic and 22 non-misophonic individuals to a study in which a range of noises were played while they were in the Magnetic Resonance Imaging machine.

With the aid of functional and structural MRI, the researchers found out that "misophonic subjects show specific trigger-sound-related responses in brain and body."

Responses In Anterior Insular Cortex 

Results of fMRI revealed "trigger sounds" produced great amount of blood-oxygen-level-dependent responses in the AIC among misophonics.

The subjects with misophona tend to "overdrive when they hear these sounds," Dr. Sukhbinder Kumar of Newcastle University said.

The reaction is mostly anger, at first seems a normal response, but later on become excessive, he noted.

"Trigger sounds in misophonics were associated with abnormal functional connectivity between AIC and a network of regions responsible for the processing and regulation of emotions," the study said.

Some brains are structured, in a sense the AIC is "wired" to other parts of the brain, to produce negative emotional responses.

Unlike before, there is now an evidence to determine the causes of the disorder.

The results of the new study may help primary care professionals to understand the difference in the brain of misophonia sufferers that will lead to better treatments.

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