Misophonia is a newly researched condition in which specific sounds cause an intense, aversive response in individuals, characterized by negative emotions and autonomic arousal. Although virtually any sound can become a misophonic trigger, the most common sounds appear to be bodily sounds related to chewing and eating as well as other repetitive sounds. An intriguing aspect of misophonia is the fact that many misophonic individuals report that they are triggered more, or even only, by sounds produced by specific individuals, and less, or not at all, by sounds produced by animals (although there are always exceptions). In general, anecdotal evidence suggests that misophonic triggers involve a combination of sound stimuli and contextual cues. The aversive stimulus is more than just a sound and can be thought of as a Gestalt of features which includes sound as a necessary component as well as additional contextual information. In this study, we explore how contextual information influences misophonic responses to human chewing, as well as sonically similar sounds produced by non-human sources. The current study revealed that the exact same sound can be perceived as being much more or less aversive depending on the contextual information presented alongside the auditory information. The results of this study provide a foundation for potential cognitive based therapies.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience