How are Misophonia and SPD (SOR) Similar ?

Misophonia describes a neurologically based disorder in which auditory stimuli (and sometimes visual) is misinterpreted within the central nervous system. Individuals with misophonia are set off or “triggered” by very specific patterned sounds, such as chewing, coughing, pencil tapping, sneezing etc.  Pawel and Margaret Jastreboff termed the disorder in 2001, in an effort to distinguish it from hyperacusis. Hyperacusis and Misophonia are both disorders related to “decreased sound tolerance”. However, hyperacusis is a condition in which auditory information is unbearably loud. In Misophonia, it is repeating (or patterned sounds) that are intolerable. The Jastreboff’s  (2001) originally hypothesized that in Misophonia pattern-based noises trigger an over reaction in the limbic system (where emotions are mediated in the brain). Therefore, auditory stimuli leads to an emotional response that causes the sufferer to feel anger, fear, disgust, or a generally  “out of control”. While the Jastreboff’s distinguished between hyperacusis and misophonia via their symptoms, the confusion between the two disorders is far from resolved, as is the etiology of either disorders. 

SPD SOR and Misophonia share a remarkable symptom overlap. In both Misophonia and Sensory Over-Responsivity auditory stimuli sets off fight/flight, leaving the sufferer feeling angry, fearful, disgusted and/or “generally out of control” as the Jastreboff’s originally suggested. 

The research in Misophonia is in its infancy. However, an impressive body of research in Sensory Over-Responsivity has emerged over the last 15 years. The work in Sensory Over- Responsivity includes numerous physiologic studies demonstrating that upon presentation of sensory stimuli children and adults are propelled into the fight/flight response.  Due to the symptom overlap it is important that misophonia researchers collaborate with SPD researchers in an effort to understand the similarities and differences between the disorders and also to inform the misophonia research in general. 

The above information was written by Jennifer Brout Psy.D.