Researchers believe they have the answer to why some people find certain noises, such as another person's chewing, so annoying.
A study from Newcastle University, published in the Current Biology journal (view study here), suggests this phenomena is linked to a key part of the brain that processes emotion.
Experts say for those diagnosed with misophonia certain sounds can lead to severe anxiety and even panic attacks.
From the study:
Overall, our data show that for misophonics, trigger sounds cause hyperactivity of AIC and an abnormal functional connectivity of this region with medial frontal, medial parietal, and temporal regions; that there is abnormal myelination in medial frontal cortex that shows abnormal functional connectivity to AIC; and that the aberrant neural response mediates the emotional coloring and physiological arousal that accompany misophonic experiences. Together, our data suggest that abnormal salience attributed to otherwise innocuous sounds, coupled with atypical perception of internal body states, underlies misophonia. With the available data, it is not possible to decide whether misophonia is a cause or consequence of atypical interoception, and further work is needed to delineate the relation between the two.
Misophonia does not feature in any neurological or psychiatric classification of disorders; sufferers do not report it for fear of the stigma that this might cause, and clinicians are commonly unaware of the disorder. This study defines a clear phenotype based on changes in behavior, autonomic responses, and brain activity and structure that will guide ongoing efforts to classify and treat this pernicious disorder.
Neuroscientists reviewed patients' brain scans and found the emotions area of the brain goes into overdrive when the patient is listening to chewing, eating, drinking and even sounds such as heavy breathing.