Have you ever sat next to someone at a restaurant who was chewing so loudly and grotesquely that you couldn’t bare to stay where you were seated for another second? Have loud chewing sounds ever made you feel angry, annoyed or simply unhappy? As it turns out, being aggravated by loud chewing is a neurological disorder called misophonia.
Although only formally recognised as a disorder in 2001, misophonia is a disorder characterised by severe sensitivity to sounds such as chewing, coughing, slurping, yawning and more. In fact, some cases of misophonia can be so serious that individuals affected by the disorder are entirely distracted by the noise and require cognitive behavioural therapy to cope with the condition.
Furthermore, if your skin crawls at the sound of slurping, or open-mouthed chewing makes you want to scream, then your brain may actually be different, compared to the average human brain.
Studies on the brains of people diagnosed with misophonia discovered that the brain’s frontal lobe has a much more intense reaction to noise than those who don’t suffer from misophonia, and reactions include increased heart rate and sweating.
Another study discovered the sufferers of misophonia can even struggle to learn. In fact, for the sound-sensitive among us, a sound as slight as someone chewing gum in a classroom can be enough to negatively affect academic performance.
So the next time someone asks you to kindly chew a little quieter, it might be worth remembering that there’s a very real (and serious!) condition behind that seemingly-rude request.
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