Have you ever been to the cinema to see quite a serious and thoughtful film but someone has turned up with a big bag of sweets and are intent on rustling?
It's pretty annoying, isn't it? Well, if noises like that or people chewing, heavy breathing or listening to music just a little too loudly on their headphones gets your back up you could be suffering from a condition called Misophonia, which literally translates as 'hatred of sound'.
Research from Newcastle University scanned the brains of 42 different people in the UK (20 of whom had the condition and 22 who didn't) and found that it is a genuine brain abnormality.
The participants were placed in an MRI Scanner and played a series of noises ranging from rain to screaming to see how they would react.
Although the annoying sounds would provoke a reaction, the specific trigger sounds that were unique to that person were what produced the most distress.
Their findings were published in the medical journal Current Biology and it revealed that the anterior insular part of the brain which joins senses and emotions was overly active with those that had Misophonia.
Dr Sukhbinder Kumar of the Newcastle University is quoted as saying:
They are going into overdrive when they hear these sounds, but the activity was specific to the trigger sounds not the other two sounds.
The reaction is anger mostly, it's not disgust. The dominating emotion is the anger - it looks like a normal response, but then it is going into overdrive.
The experts did concede that it was not possible to conclude if misophonia was a consequence of a person's internal state and that more research would be needed in order to define the condition.
Misophonia does not feature in any neurological or psychiatric classification of disorders; sufferers do not report it for fear of the stigma that this might cause, and clinicians are commonly unaware of the disorder.
This study defines a clear phenotype based on changes in behaviour, autonomic responses, and brain activity and structure that will guide ongoing efforts to classify and treat this pernicious disorder.
HT Lad Bible