This article is part of the Research Topic The Neural Underpinnings of Vicarious Experience

Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Hum. Neurosci., 25 June 2013 | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00296

Misophonia: physiological investigations and case descriptions

Miren Edelstein1*, David Brang1,2, Romke Rouw3 and Vilayanur S. Ramachandran1
  • 1Department of Psychology, Center for Brain and Cognition, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA
  • 2Department of Psychology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA
  • 3Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Misophonia is a relatively unexplored chronic condition in which a person experiences autonomic arousal (analogous to an involuntary “fight-or-flight” response) to certain innocuous or repetitive sounds such as chewing, pen clicking, and lip smacking. Misophonics report anxiety, panic, and rage when exposed to trigger sounds, compromising their ability to complete everyday tasks and engage in healthy and normal social interactions. Across two experiments, we measured behavioral and physiological characteristics of the condition. Interviews (Experiment 1) with misophonics showed that the most problematic sounds are generally related to other people's behavior (pen clicking, chewing sounds). Misophonics are however not bothered when they produce these “trigger” sounds themselves, and some report mimicry as a coping strategy. Next, (Experiment 2) we tested the hypothesis that misophonics' subjective experiences evoke an anomalous physiological response to certain auditory stimuli. Misophonic individuals showed heightened ratings and skin conductance responses (SCRs) to auditory, but not visual stimuli, relative to a group of typically developed controls, supporting this general viewpoint and indicating that misophonia is a disorder that produces distinct autonomic effects not seen in typically developed individuals.

Keywords: misophonia, sound sensitivity, skin conductance response, auditory processing, aversive sounds, case reports, autonomic response

Citation: Edelstein M, Brang D, Rouw R and Ramachandran VS (2013) Misophonia: physiological investigations and case descriptions. Front. Hum. Neurosci. 7:296. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00296

Received: 01 April 2013; Accepted: 05 June 2013;
Published online: 25 June 2013.

Edited by:

Peter G. Enticott, Monash University, Australia

Reviewed by:

Kate Hoy, Monash University, Australia
Arjan Schröder, Academic Medical Center, Netherlands

Copyright © 2013 Edelstein, Brang, Rouw and Ramachandran. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc.

*Correspondence: Miren Edelstein, Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Dr. #0109, La Jolla, CA 92093-0109, USA e-mail: mhedelstein@ucsd.edu

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