Exploring the “fingerprint” for how people with misophonia respond to sound

September 2023

Researchers in University of Sussex conducted a new study in which they tried to understand why certain sounds bother some people more than others. They’re using a special method called “phenomenological cartography” and technology to do this. They want to see if strong reactions to one sound can help predict if someone has misophonia when they hear a different sound. They’re also looking at other types of sound intolerance such as hyperacusis and how people with misophonia react to pain when hearing sounds. They want to know if these reactions are only connected to misophonia or if they’re related to other factors that make people sensitive to sounds. Lastly, they’re comparing how people who enjoy ASMR (a relaxing sensation from certain sounds) react to the same sounds used in the misophonia study.

In this research, they found that people with misophonia have a particular pattern of reacting to sounds. Some sounds bother them a lot, while others bother them less. This pattern is different from how other people, even those with autism or people who enjoy ASMR, react to sounds. It’s like discovering a unique fingerprint for how people with misophonia respond to noises.

They also found that some sounds are generally disliked by most people, while others are especially bothersome for those with misophonia. However, the reasons behind these reactions are complex and involve factors like the meaning of the sound and the situation in which it’s heard. Sometimes, even changing the meaning or making it harder to recognize the sound can reduce the difference in reactions between people with and without misophonia. But more research is needed to fully understand this.

Adopted from: The Daily Scan

Additionally, they explored whether certain sound characteristics that make sounds unpleasant were connected to misophonia. Surprisingly, they didn’t find a strong link between these characteristics and how people with misophonia rated natural sounds. However, these characteristics were more relevant when it came to unrecognizable scrambled sounds, which suggests that many natural sounds in their study might have been hard to identify. So, there might be other sound features we don’t know about yet that are important for misophonia. A recent study conducted at Hashir International Specialist Clinics and & Research Institute for Misophonia, Tinnitus & and Hyperacusis reported that individuals’ with misophonia seemed to be more sensitive to sounds whose spectrum is dominated by high frequencies, such as the sound of crispy foods (Read more here).

Lastly, they looked at how misophonia is related to other disorder/conditions like autism, hyperacusis, and ASMR. They think that these disorders/conditions might share a common element: people who are generally very sensitive to different sensations, not just sounds. But ASMR seems to be quite different from misophonia because they have opposite reactions to similar sounds.

In summary, this study helps us better understand why some people find certain sounds extremely annoying. It’s like discovering a special code that explains how people with misophonia react to different noises. This knowledge can lead to better ways to help those with misophonia and maybe even find ways to treat it. However, there’s still more to learn, and the researchers need to do more studies to confirm their findings.

What to do if you have misophonia? 

Misophonia is a real and highly debilitating disorder that can have a significant impact on individuals’ lives, and it can be challenging to manage without support. If you or someone you know is struggling with misophonia, it is essential to seek help from healthcare professionals who understand the disorder and can provide effective treatment options.

  • We invite you to explore our blog to read about personal experiences related to Misophonia.
  • For further information on misophonia, please refer to our resources available here.

This review is written by Dr. Mercede Erfanian, PhD – research fellow at Hashir International Specialist Clinics & Research Institute for Misophonia, Tinnitus and Hyperacusis.

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