Science confirms misophonia is a real condition

Misophonia — if you don't have the condition, it can be baffling when you run into someone who does. Individuals with misophonia have a severe intolerance for certain obnoxious sounds, such as gum being chewed loudly. Exposure to such noises provokes a nearly uncontrollable anger in so-called misophonics, a reaction some have tried to paint as irrational or fake. Science, it turns out, disagrees with that criticism, finding that misophonia is indeed a very real condition.

Misophonia, for the uninitiated, is an extreme sensitivity to certain noises, particularly mouth noises, such as the kind that result from eating. Slurping, crunching, gulping, and similar sounds are known exceptional triggers that send misophonics from zero to enraged in the span of only a couple seconds.

Via a study published in Current Biology, a part of the brain that deals with emotional processing and interoceptive signals called the anterior insular cortex (AIC) experiences a 'greatly exaggerated' blood and oxygen-level dependent response when a misophonic is exposed to trigger sounds.

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, including ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), posteromedial cortex (PMC), hippocampus, and amygdala.

This was determined using fMRI scans of individuals with misophonia, but those scans weren't the only indication of this disorder. The study also found that misophonics experienced a galvanic skin response and a faster heart rate.

Interestingly enough, those with misophonia were found to have a different perception of their own bodies versus those without misophonia, exhibiting greater 'interoceptive sensibility' — that is, people with misophonia are more aware of the sensations from within their own bodies.