For the study, 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. The sounds were categorized into neutral sounds (rain, a busy café, water boiling), unpleasant sounds (a baby crying, a person screaming) and trigger sounds (the sounds of breathing or eating). When presented with trigger sounds, those with misophonia presented different results to those without the condition.
"I hope this will reassure sufferers," Tim Griffiths, Professor of Cognitive Neurology at Newcastle University and UCL, said in a press release. "I was part of the skeptical community myself until we saw patients in the clinic and understood how strikingly similar the features are."
“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," Dr Sukhbinder Kumar, from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University and the Wellcome Centre for NeuroImaging at University College London, added. “This study demonstrates the critical brain changes as further evidence to convince a sceptical medical community that this is a genuine disorder.”