If The Sound Of Chewing Annoys You, You're Basically A Genius

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Misophonia is a condition where certain sounds drive people into a burst of rage or disgust.

You're in a darkened movie theater in the middle of a especially exciting and interesting film, but all you can focus on is the person behind you, who's chewing loudly on their popcorn. The popcorn chewer finishes up, but now it seems like the woman next you is the loudest nacho-eater on the planet.

If this has ever happened to you, you may have misophonia.

Misophonia is a condition (although only identified and named in the last 20 years) in which certain sounds can drive someone into a burst of rage or disgust. People with misophonia have specific symptoms and triggers, and are sensitive to only certain sounds, occasionally affected by visual triggers.

In a 2013 study by Arjan Schroder and his colleagues at the University of Amsterdam, they identified the most common irritants as eating sounds (like lip smacking and swallowing), breathing sounds (including nostril noises and sneezing), and hand sounds (like typing and pen clicking).

Psychologists believe that an inability to shut out irrelevant sensory information could be strongly linked to creativity and above-average intelligence. Being overly sensitive to sound may actually be behind the genius of people like Charles DarwinAnton Chekhov, and Marcel Proust.

Scientists think this distractibility, which they call leaky sensory gating, can happen at a young age.

Findings that were published in the journal Neuropsychologia suggest that for people with the affliction, it might be easier to think creatively as their mind able to focus better on all kinds of things at once.

Researchers are only beginning to fully understand the science behind misophonia, but early data suggests a hyperconnectivity between the auditory system and the limbic system (a part of the brain responsible for generating emotions). They've also made connections between misophonia and other conditions such as OCD and PTSD.

People who suffer from misophonia must think outside the box when coming up with ways to filter out annoying sounds. 

Next time you're highly annoyed that your co-worker is making a lot of noise chewing his granola bar, remind yourself that of creative ways to stop him without being rude. You're using your big-brain power to do it, after all.


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