Severity of misophonia symptoms is associated with worse cognitive control when exposed to misophonia trigger sounds

PLoS One. 2020 Jan 16;15(1):e0227118. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0227118. eCollection 2020.


The present study aimed to investigate the extent to which the severity of misophonia symptoms is linked with cognitive control under misophonia symptom-provocation circumstances in the general population sample. Participants (N = 79) completed a measure of cognitive control-a Stroop color naming task, which consists of congruent and incongruent stimuli, and requires inhibition of a prepotent response (reading a word) in the service of a less predominant response (naming a color), while listening to misophonia symptom-provocation or universally unpleasant sounds. Participants' misophonia sound sensitivity, and emotional behaviors towards trigger sounds were assessed using the Misophonia Questionnaire. Stronger emotional behavioral reactions to misophonia trigger sounds were significantly associated with the larger Stroop effect when participants were exposed to the misophonia trigger sounds, but not when they were exposed to the universally unpleasant sounds. This effect held when controlling for the personality trait of Neuroticism and for baseline levels of anxiety. Both elevated misophonia sound sensitivity and emotional behaviors towards trigger sounds significantly correlated with higher self-reported anxiety when performing the Stroop task. However, only elevated emotional behaviors towards trigger sounds were linked with higher anxiety levels at baseline, suggesting that people who experience stronger emotions and behavioral reactions to misophonia trigger sounds may have higher anxiety at a trait level. Limitations and future directions are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affective Symptoms / physiopathology*
  • Anxiety / physiopathology*
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Cognition*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuroticism
  • Noise / adverse effects*
  • Stroop Test

Grants and funding

The author(s) received no specific funding for this work.