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Dr Sukhbinder Kumar is a neuroscientist and is currently working as a Research Fellow at Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, University College London (UCL) and Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University (UK). He received his PhD from Newcastle University (UK) in 2004. His research concerns understanding brain mechanisms of auditory perception, cognition and emotion processing in normal human subjects and how these mechanisms go wrong in disorders of perception such as musical hallucinations and disorders of emotion processing such as misophonia. To address these questions he uses functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and magnetoencephalography (MEG) combined with computational modelling and behavioural testing. Dr Kumar has published over 30 peer-reviewed articles in neuroscience journals. Dr. Kumar is a member of the International Misophonia Research Network (IMRN) Advisory Board.
In our previous study published last year we used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to determine brain areas which are active when subjects with misophonia listen to trigger sounds. The current study uses a different measurement technique called Magnetoencephalography (MEG) which can record brain activity from the scalp. This has the potential application that relatively cheaper (than MRI) devices such as EEG can be used for future research and therapeutic applications .
The Brain Basis For Misophonia | New Castle University Study
Dr. Sukhbinder Kumar and colleagues from the Institute of Neuroscience at New Castle University published a groundbreaking misophonia study in Current Biology (February, 2017). The research team measured three sets of sounds that were presented to both misophonics and to controls while they were in an MRI scanner. Sounds included typical misophonia “trigger sounds”, typically unpleasant sounds, as well as neutral sounds. Measurements of brain activity and autonomic responses (heart rate and galvanic skin response) were recorded in the MRI scanner. After presentation of each sound, misophonic and control subjects rated their level of distress. Common trigger sounds evoked a strong reaction in misophonic subjects, while the typically unpleasant sounds were reported as “annoying”. Notably, the typically unpleasant sounds did not result in heightened reactions in misophonics.
Brain imaging data showed greatly exaggerated activation of the anterior insular cortex (AIC) in people with misophonia, but not in controls. In addition, the heightened reactivity in misophonic subjects was specific to trigger sounds. For controls there was no difference between reactions to unpleasant versus trigger sounds.
The AIC detects personally relevant stimuli in the environment and directs attention to that stimulus. Stronger activation of AIC to trigger sounds demonstrates that misophonic subjects assign higher salience to trigger sounds.
In addition, analysis of functional connectivity of AIC showed hyper-connectivity, which was again specific to trigger sounds and to default mode network (DMN) in misophonic subjects. The DMN is active during internally directed thoughts and recall of memories.
Finally, analysis of structural brain data demonstrated that misophonics have greater myelination in the gray matter of ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). This structural difference may account for the abnormal functional connectivity of AIC to DMN in misophonics. Overall, Kumar et al. showed abnormal activation and functional connectivity of AIC underlying the symptoms of misophonia.
Donate to the Duke Misophonia Sensory and Emotion Program
Are donations to the Misophonia Sensory and Emotion Program tax deductible?
Yes, gifts made directly to Duke are tax deductible, as Duke University has 501c3 non-profit status. We provide tax receipts for all gifts made by US residents. If the gift is made online, an emailed tax receipt is automatically generated at the time the gift is made. If the gift is sent via check, a paper receipt is generated the day after the check is processed and sent via mail.
Online giving link for the misophonia fund at Duke: https://www.gifts.duke.edu/dukehealth?designation=3910412
Is there a minimum spending amount for tax receipts?
Duke honours all donations over $.50 USD. Therefore, will receive a receipt for your donation even if it is under $10.00.
Can I donate via check and mail?
Yes! Please follow the following instructions to mail your donation to Duke.
- Check is made out to “Duke University”
- On the memo line write “Misophonia 391-0412”
- Mail the check to the following:
Department of Psychiatry
Attn: Sandra Williams
DUMC –Box 3071
Durham NC 27710
Are non-US Residents eligible for tax receipts?
As to the question about Canadian and European donors, there is some information available here that you might find helpful: https://giving.duke.edu/ways-to-give. I know we have donors around the world who support Duke, but I’d recommend international individuals check with their financial advisor about the specific regulations that apply to their residency status. They can also contact me with specific questions, and I will investigate.
GIFTS FROM UK TAXPAYERS
If you are a UK taxpayer—even if you also pay taxes in the US—you may be able to significantly increase the value of your gift. Find out how the Duke UK Trust Limited can make your donation worth more.
INFORMATION FOR EUROPEAN DONORS TO DUKE
Through Transnational Giving Europe (TGE), donors in participating countries can direct gifts to Duke University through Duke’s UK-registered charity, Duke U.K. Trust Limited (Duke UK Trust). More information on TGE is available here.
Donors can also contact me (Morgan Pope) directly by phone or email to discuss individual questions (919-385-3121 or [email protected]).
Want to know the misophonia studies taking place at Duke? Please visit the Misophonia Research study page.