Scientists Have Discovered Why You Can’t Stand Chewing Sounds
If the sound of someone chewing noisily from across the dinner table is enough to make you want to throw up your own meal, don’t worry – you’re not alone.
Being disgusted by chewing sounds is part of a very real condition known as misophonia – Latin for ‘hatred of sound’ – a disorder that causes certain noises to trigger an visceral response.
Now, new research may have answered the question of exactly why misophonia sufferers are so easily revolted by things like chewing.
According to a team at Newcastle University, the condition is all down to a ‘supersensitised connection’ between two different parts of the brain.
The specific areas thought to be linked to misophonia are the auditory cortex and motor areas related to the mouth, throat and face. The auditory cortex is responsible for processing sound, while the motor cortex is involved in controlling movements.
It’s the first time the link between these two specific parts of the brain has been identified as a possible cause of the condition, and scientists are hugely excited by the breakthrough, which challenges previous assumptions that the disorder was caused by an issue with the processing of sound.
Results from the study were published today, May 24, in the Journal of Neuroscience.
In comments published alongside the findings, lead study author Dr. Sukhbinder Kumar said:
Our findings indicate that for people with misophonia there is abnormal communication between the auditory and motor brain regions – you could describe it as a ‘supersensitised connection’.
This is the first time such a connection in the brain has been identified for the condition.
According to Eurekalert, anywhere between 6 and 20% of people suffer from misophonia, with reactions to specific trigger sounds ranging from mild discomfort to the urge to run away or even hurt the person making the offending noise.
Dr Kumar also revealed that the team’s research suggested misophonia could also have visual triggers, have found a ‘similar pattern of communication between the visual and motor regions’.
For misophonia sufferers, there’s good news. Dr. Kumar says that there’s also a way for people to deal with the condition by themselves, revealing ‘some people with misophonia can lessen their symptoms by mimicking the action generating the trigger sound, which might indicate restoring a sense of control’.
So if you can’t get away from the noisy chewers in your life, at least you can make eating with them a little less unbearable.
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