Misophonia is a condition in which specific ordinary sounds provoke disproportionately strong negative affect and physiological arousal. Evidence for neurobiological abnormalities underlying misophonia is scarce. Since many psychiatric disorders show white matter (WM) abnormalities, we tested for both macro and micro-structural WM differences between misophonia patients and healthy controls. We collected T1-weighted and diffusion-weighted magnetic resonance images from 24 patients and 25 matched controls. We tested for group differences in WM volume using whole-brain voxel-based morphometry and used the significant voxels from this analysis as seeds for probabilistic tractography. After calculation of diffusion tensors, we compared group means for fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity, and directional diffusivities, and applied tract-based spatial statistics for voxel-wise comparison. Compared to controls, patients had greater left-hemispheric WM volumes in the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus, anterior thalamic radiation, and body of the corpus callosum connecting bilateral superior frontal gyri. Patients also had lower averaged radial and mean diffusivities and voxel-wise comparison indicated large and widespread clusters of lower mean diffusivity. We found both macro and microstructural WM abnormalities in our misophonia sample, suggesting misophonia symptomatology is associated with WM alterations. These biological alterations may be related to differences in social-emotional processing, particularly recognition of facial affect, and to attention for affective information.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102787
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Attention
  • Diffusion tensor imaging
  • Misophonia
  • Probabilistic tractography
  • White matter volume

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