If you can’t stand the sound of slurping or chewing – we mean, really can’t stand it – turns out you’re not just supremely intolerant of your fellow man: you might have a bona fide medical condition. It’s called misophonia, and despite being recognised as a condition in 2001, it wasn’t taken seriously by most in the medical community until landmark new research cemented its existence.
Scientists at Newcastle University, UK, found that the frontal lobes of people with misophonia differ to those without the condition. Their research, published in Current Biology in February 2017, showed changes in brain activity when sufferers heard ‘trigger’ sounds like eating, The Times reports.
MRI scans showed that sufferers’ brains went into overdrive when they heard the trigger sounds, and some also experienced physiological responses like sweating and an increased heart rate. When they heard other sounds, even potentially aggravating ones like screaming, a baby crying or water boiling, their brain activity remained normal.
“I hope this will reassure sufferers,” Professor Tim Griffiths, Newcastle University, says. “I was part of the sceptical community myself until we saw patients in the clinic and understood how strikingly similar the features are.”
So bookmark this page for the next time someone thinks you’re being unreasonable when they’re noisily slurping their soup – you can’t control your brain’s activity, after all.