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Patrawat Samermit, Jeremy Saal, John Collins, Nicolas Davidenko; Cross-modal attenuation of misophonic responses. Journal of Vision 2018;18(10):1144. doi: 10.1167/18.10.1144.
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Misophonia, defined as "hatred of sound", is a disorder in which certain sounds (e.g., the screech of nails on a chalkboard) trigger strong negative emotional and visceral reactions including disgust, anxiety, and anger. The mechanisms of misophonia are not well understood, although it has been described as a cross-modal neural mapping (Edelstein, Brang, Rouw, & Ramachandran, 2013). We propose that misophonia involves multi-sensory simulation of the apparent source of the sound. If this is true, a grating sound that is normally associated with a grating activity will feel less grating if it is visually associated with a non-grating activity. In this study, neurotypical participants were presented with eight short sound clips that have been reported in previous research to produce misophonic responses, such as the sound of nails on a chalkboard or a knife scraping across glass. Each sound was paired with either a negative attributable video (e.g., the original video of nails scratching a chalkboard) or a positive attributable video (e.g., someone playing the flute). The pairing was counterbalanced across participants. Participants were first presented with all eight sounds with no video, to obtain baseline ratings of (un)pleasantness, (dis)comfort, and bodily sensation. They were then presented with the same 8 sounds paired with 4 positive and 4 negative attributable videos in random order. Finally, they were presented with the 8 sounds again with no video. Comparing ratings across blocks indicates that the concurrent presentation of a positive (or negative) attributable video leads to more positive (or negative) responses to sounds than baseline, across all three measures, which then returns to baseline upon the third presentation with no video. Our results provide evidence that the negative responses associated with grating misophonic sounds may be cross-modally attenuated through association with less grating visual stimuli.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2018
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