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If chewing sounds irk you, blame your brain

Misophonia marked by excess activity in structure involved in emotion

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12:12pm, February 2, 2017
person eating corn on the cob

CHEW ON THIS Scientists found structural and functional differences in the brains of people who find the noise of other people eating, drinking or breathing to be exceptionally annoying. 

The sound of someone slurping coffee or crunching an apple can be mildly annoying — but it leaves some people seething. These people aren’t imagining their distress, new research suggests. Anger and anxiety in response to everyday sounds of eating, drinking and breathing come from increased activity in parts of the brain that process and regulate emotions, scientists report February 2 in Current Biology.

People with this condition, called misophonia, are often dismissed as just overly sensitive, says Jennifer Jo Brout, a clinical psychologist not involved with the study. “This really confirms that it’s neurologically based,” says Brout, founder of the Sensory Processing and Emotion Regulation Program at Duke University Medical Center.

Researchers played sounds to 20 people with misophonia and 22 people without. Some sounds were neutral, such as rain

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