Nobody enjoys sitting next to someone who’s nosily chomping away with their mouth open.
But for a few people, it’s unbelievably infuriating. We’re talking the proper sweat-inducing, come-near-me-at-your-own-risk kind of rage. And scientists now think they know why.
According to a new research paper in Current Biology, extreme sensitivity to noises like chewing, heavy breathing and rustling, can actually be a sign of a condition called misophonia.
The brains of people who have it are wired differently, and produce an excessive emotional response to trigger noises.
After analysing the brains of 20 people with misophonia and 22 without it, in an MRI scan, the researchers noticed that the brains of those with misophonia were “going into overdrive when they hear these sounds, but the activity was specific to the trigger sounds”.
"The reaction is anger mostly, it's not disgust, the dominating emotion is the anger - it looks like a normal response, but then it is going into overdrive,” Dr Sukhbinder Kumar tells the BBC.
Interestingly, another study conducted two years ago found that many creative geniuses have the same problem with blocking out or ignoring sensory distraction.
They listed famous French novelist Marcel Proust, as an example. Apparently he hated annoying noises so much he insulated his room and wore earplugs!