WATCH | Does the sound of slurping, loud chewing or repeated pen clicking drive you crazy? Well, a new report from Newcastle University in the United Kingdom found scientific evidence that for some people, those sounds are actually unbearable.
The research, which was published in the journal Current Biology, found that certain trigger sounds cause an immediate fight or flight feeling for those who suffer from a neurological disorder called misophonia.
Trigger sounds include things like loud eating, chewing or even repeated pen clicking. Researchers found the first evidence of clear changes in the structure of the brain's frontal lobe in those who suffer from misophonia, according to a press release from the university.
The team used an MRI to measure the brain activity of people with and without misophonia while they were listening to a range of sounds. Those sounds were broken down into three categories: neutral, unpleasant and trigger sounds. WATCH| Test yourself by listening to these sounds
"We found that the trigger sounds evoked a much larger response in a part of the brain called the anterior insula."
—Dr. Sukhbinder Kumar
The brain imaging revealed that people with misophonia have "an abnormality in the emotional control mechanism which causes their brains to go into overdrive" when they hear those trigger sounds.
The researchers also found that trigger sounds evoked a heightened physiological response, such as an increased heart rate and sweating, in people with misophonia.
Misophonia was first named as a condition in 2001, according to Time. For a long time, however, scientists have disputed whether this can be considered a medical ailment.
But this report is the first to produce clear evidence that it is a medical disorder.
"For many people with misophonia, this will come as welcome news as for the first time we have demonstrated a difference in brain structure and function in sufferers," said Kumar, from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University. "This study demonstrates the critical brain changes as further evidence to convince a skeptical medical community that this is a genuine disorder.”