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The Brain Basis for Misophonia.

Kumar, S; Tansley-Hancock, O; Sedley, W; Winston, JS; Callaghan, MF; Allen, M; Cope, TE; ... Griffiths, TD; + view all (2017) The Brain Basis for Misophonia. Current Biology , 27 (4) pp. 527-533. 10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.048. Green open access

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Misophonia is an affective sound-processing disorder characterized by the experience of strong negative emotions (anger and anxiety) in response to everyday sounds, such as those generated by other people eating, drinking, chewing, and breathing [1-8]. The commonplace nature of these sounds (often referred to as "trigger sounds") makes misophonia a devastating disorder for sufferers and their families, and yet nothing is known about the underlying mechanism. Using functional and structural MRI coupled with physiological measurements, we demonstrate that misophonic subjects show specific trigger-sound-related responses in brain and body. Specifically, fMRI showed that in misophonic subjects, trigger sounds elicit greatly exaggerated blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD) responses in the anterior insular cortex (AIC), a core hub of the "salience network" that is critical for perception of interoceptive signals and emotion processing. Trigger sounds in misophonics were associated with abnormal functional connectivity between AIC and a network of regions responsible for the processing and regulation of emotions, including ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC), posteromedial cortex (PMC), hippocampus, and amygdala. Trigger sounds elicited heightened heart rate (HR) and galvanic skin response (GSR) in misophonic subjects, which were mediated by AIC activity. Questionnaire analysis showed that misophonic subjects perceived their bodies differently: they scored higher on interoceptive sensibility than controls, consistent with abnormal functioning of AIC. Finally, brain structural measurements implied greater myelination within vmPFC in misophonic individuals. Overall, our results show that misophonia is a disorder in which abnormal salience is attributed to particular sounds based on the abnormal activation and functional connectivity of AIC.

Type: Article
Title: The Brain Basis for Misophonia.
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.048
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2016.12.048
Language: English
Additional information: © 2016 The Author. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).
Keywords: Affective disorders, autonomic response, fMRI, functional connectivity, interoception, misophonia
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1540343
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