Does it bother you that they chew with their mouths open? You might have misophonia

Does your blood boil as soon as you hear someone chewing or tapping a surface with a pencil? It’s not just the annoying person’s fault, in fact, the real problem lies in your brain. Have you ever been tempted to ask someone to chew with their mouth closed, to stop sipping soup, or to stop banging on the table? You’re not alone.


Man holding head

The person in question may not have mastered good manners, but the big reason this type of sound throws you off your feet is a brain abnormality called misophonia.

Researchers at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom found that people who find the aforementioned sounds unbearable have a difference in the frontal lobe of the brain compared to those who don’t feel discomfort – which makes misophonia a brain disorder. Until then, irritation with these kinds of sounds was viewed with skepticism by the medical community, which called it a “condition” in 2001.

Study leader Sukhbinder Kumar of Newcastle University’s Institute of Neuroscience said the discovery was good news because it was the first time scientists had demonstrated a difference in the structure and function of the brains of those suffering from misophonia. “The study is further evidence to convince skeptics in the medical community that misophonia is a genuine disorder,” he said in a news release.

Sipping Coffee


The research was recently published in the journal Current Biology. To reach this conclusion, the scientists used magnetic resonance imaging tests on people who were not uncomfortable with sounds, as well as those who could not stand them. During the examination, the volunteers were exposed to three kinds of sounds: neutral (rain, boiling water, and a crowded café), unpleasant (a baby crying, a person screaming), and triggering (chewing, breathing).

The researchers noted that when listening to the trigger sounds, the brain activity of those suffering from misophonia is very different from that seen in the first group. This is because the volunteers in the second group have an abnormality in the emotional control mechanism that overloads the brain with every tick or chew of an open mouth. And the discomfort doesn’t stop there: The researchers also noted that trigger sounds cause increased heart rate and sweating in those who suffer from misophonia.

Child chewing with mouth open
Yum yum yum!

The next time someone is chewing gum with their mouth open next to you, you already have the perfect excuse to make them stop: tell them you’re misophonic.



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