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Irritated by noisy eaters? This could be why

People who find the sounds of chewing or breathing unbearable have a genuine brain abnormality Photo: PA

Scans have shown people who find the sounds of chewing or breathing unbearable have a genuine brain abnormality, North East scientists have found.

While many people find hearing people eat off-putting or pen clicking annoying, others who suffer from misophonia report feeling disgust when exposed to the noises.<

Referring to "trigger sounds", people with misophonia can respond with an intense "fight or flight" reaction.

Now researchers at Newcastle University have reported finding a difference in the frontal lobe in misophonia sufferers, suggesting it is a genuine condition where medical opinion in the past has been sceptical.

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Writing in the journal Current Biology, they found changes in the brain activity when a trigger sound is experienced.

They also found people with misophonia experienced an increased heart rate and sweated when they were confronted by a trigger sound.

People who suffer from misophonia report feeling disgust when exposed to certain noises Credit: PA

Researchers found a difference in the "emotional control mechanism" that causes their brains to go into overdrive on hearing trigger sounds.

Dr Sukhbinder Kumar, from the Institute of Neuroscience at Newcastle University, said:

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.

This study demonstrates the critical brain changes as further evidence to convince a sceptical medical community that this is a genuine disorder."

– Dr Sukhbinder Kumar

Tim Griffiths, Professor of Cognitive Neurology at Newcastle University and UCL, said:

"I hope this will reassure sufferers.

I was part of the sceptical community myself until we saw patients in the clinic and understood how strikingly similar the features are.

One misophonia sufferer said her GP laughed when she told him about her

symptoms."

– Tim Griffiths, Professor of Cognitive Neurology at Newcastle University