We all have that sound that really annoys us, whether it is a partner’s snoring, the sound of a barking dog, or the classic chalk on a blackboard. But why do some sounds evoke such intense feelings of anger, irritation and in some extreme cases, even disgust?
When a person hears a sound, the amygdala (the part of the brain that regulates emotions) decides the emotional response a person has to it. Katie Ogden, audiologist and training manager of ReSound North-West Europe, has compiled a list of the most hated sounds and gives insight into why these noises trigger such a strong response in certain individuals.
Eating and chewing
The sound of someone eating or chewing can trigger a negative response in many individuals, so much so, that it even has a name – Misophonia. But why do people find these sounds so frustrating?
People with Misophonia have stronger connectivity between the part of the brain that processes sound and the premotor cortex that controls the mouth and throat muscle movements. This means that those suffering find hearing chewing or eating irritating due to their sensitivity to it activating their own muscles.
Snoring is another sound Misophonia sufferers struggle to tolerate, however, the sound of snoring can also cause irritation to individuals in general, for a number of reasons.
First of all, a person’s hearing apparatus is designed to focus on sounds that are close by, making a person snoring nearby hard to ignore.
The second reason is that snoring is sporadic, making the speed and intensity impossible to predict, meaning you can’t lull yourself into a rhythm of listening to it.
Chalk on a blackboard
When it comes to the classic screeching sound of chalk scraping against a blackboard, the shape of a person’s ear canal could play a part in why the noise is so unbearable. Studies have shown that due to the shape of the ear canal, it amplifies certain frequencies to a painful volume, including high-pitched sounds like chalk on a backboard.
Often people find that the sound of a baby crying captures their attention in a way that very few other sounds do and associate the sound with a feeling of stress. The reason why the sound of a crying baby is impossible to ignore is because it activates the primitive parts of the brain that trigger the fight-or-flight response.
The sound of a dog barking can cause anger or irritation for a lot of people due to it being a repetitive, sharp and usually loud sound. Much like the sound of a baby crying, barking also evokes the fight-or-flight …….