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Poster A4

Selective attention towards and away from trigger sounds in misophonia: a fMRI study

Poster Session A - Saturday, April 13, 2024, 2:30 – 4:30 pm EDT, Sheraton Hall ABC

Marie-Anick Savard1, Heather A. Hansen1, Randa El Chami1, Mickael L.D. Deroche1, Emily B.J. Coffey1; 1Concordia University

Misophonia is a disorder in which specific trigger sounds elicit strong negative emotional reactions. It is surprisingly prevalent (up to 18% of the population), and can significantly impact well-being. Although higher-level cognitive processes have been shown to play a role in misophonia, little is known about how they could be used to modulate misophonic responses. Attentional processes are particularly interesting in misophonia. Individuals with misophonia often report experiencing hyper-attention to trigger sounds once they are detected, and also report attending to music as a coping mechanism, for example to get through a class in which trigger sounds are present in the environment. In the current study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity of individuals with misophonia during an auditory selective attention task. While in the scanner, participants with misophonia listened to two sound streams played simultaneously through ear inserts. In one ear, they were presented with trigger or neutral sounds; in the other ear, they heard unfamiliar musical excerpts. During each trial, participants were asked to focus on a specific sound stream (either sound or music). We present preliminary results revealing insights into the modulation of brain activity in misophonic individuals with selective attention. This neuroimaging perspective enhances our understanding of misophonic reactions, providing crucial insights into the specific brain regions involved during attention modulation of trigger sounds, which will contribute to the development of targeted interventions aimed at alleviating misophonic distress, thereby improving the overall quality of life for those affected.

Topic Area: ATTENTION: Auditory


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April 13–16  |  2024