The first study to perform actual brain imaging (fMRI) on subjects currently experiencing ASMR tingles (as opposed to individuals who were merely able to experience the phenomenon) was published in BioImpacts in September 2018. Subjects viewed several ASMR videos with a screen and headphones while inside the MRI scanner. The study found a significant difference in brain activation between time periods when the subject reported tingling (communicated by pressing a button), as compared to time periods when they were watching a video but not reporting tingling (communicated by pressing a different button, to control for brain activation effects caused by merely pressing a button). They concluded that "the brain regions found most active during the tingling sensations were the nucleus accumbens, mPFC, insula and secondary somatosensory cortex", and suggested that these were similar to "activation of brain regions previously observed during experiences like social bonding and musical frisson".
Some of the biggest ASMR artists on YouTube—like Gentle Whispering ASMR and Gibi ASMR—have racked up millions of subscribers, with millions of views for some of their videos. These creators are triggering the ASMR experience in countless ways. Sometimes, it's as simple as tapping their fingernails next to their microphone or whispering gently to their camera. Other times, they're roleplaying everyday situations and making them feel far more intimate; for example, a stylist taking your measurements for clothes or a doctor giving you a check-up.
There are certain “chillout” music tracks that trigger a pleasant ASMR sensation for me if I listen through headphones. They are likely to be more effective than watching someone folding a towel. One of them is “Summer Love” by Paul Hardcastle. There are some pulsating notes right at the beginning which seem to massage the brain & scalp; and the female singers have a soft gentle sound in their choruses and harmonies. Also try “Deep River” by Lemongrass featuring the Russian keyboard player / vocalist Jane Maximova. It has long notes which undulate warmly, invoking inner visions of beaches and ocean waves. Over these warm sounds, Jane whispers a poem from the point of view a woman who sees herself as a “deep river” for her lover. Her mermaid-like singing and whispers, along with her exotic accent, will surely trigger ASMR, or send you gently to sleep.
I remember the first time i experienced ASMR: I was laying on the couch when i was 5, I think i was having bad dreams and wanted to sleep closer to my parents. The dryer was going and my head was tingling the whole time. I will never forget that first time. Just this year i found out about the ASMR community and i finally have the answer that i have been looking for! So happy!
She made her first ASMR video in February 2011, filming herself as she leafed through a journal and played with seashells. The video logged just two views in a month, and Maria was so disappointed that she deleted it. A few months later, she tried again; this time, there were a few encouraging comments. She kept at it, and by the end of the year, she had 30,000 subscribers. Nearly three years later, she has more than 300,000.
According to YouTube estimates, there are more than 45 million ASMR videos uploaded to the site, and, over the past year, there has been a marked increase in children making ASMR-related videos. Richard hypothesises that our brain is probably more receptive to an unknown child than a strange adult, making it easier for some individuals to be relaxed by ASMR videos featuring children.
Hi, I’m so glad I found this site, I have experienced this sensation all over my scalp for years when I hear certain sounds. I was once called by a woman wanting to conduct a questionnaire, her voice almost sent me to sleep I was that relaxed hearing her. Other triggers are people using a ball point pen or a typing on a keyboard, but my favourite by far is watching street spray paint artists on YouTube, the sound of the spray can being shaken and the slight stickiness of the paint when it’s touched causes my head to tingle and give me calming and euphoric sensation. I thought it was only me and that I was a bit weird as nobody else I’ve spoken to as had these feelings, poor them I say! Thanks again.
If you don't like any of these, there are lots of other options. The top YouTube “ASMRtists,” like ASMR Darling and Gibi ASMR, have over a million subscribers and hundreds of videos each. You can also explore “unintentional ASMR:” content not created with tingles in mind, but that just so happens to promote them. (Painter Bob Ross has a cult ASMR following).
I can do it without triggers. I didn’t really know what it was until today. I guess I just assumed everyone could do it. I just relax my neck and shoulders, and take shallow breaths and then feel tingles all through my head and body. I’ve been doing it all day today. Especially when I think about someone taking care of me or thinking about me. Like I said I didn’t even know this was a thing until today, so maybe I’m way off lol.
While I will admit that ASMR (and sleep) is definitely the kind of thing that admits of “more” and “less” descriptors, I’m still not convinced that it is “intensity” that is the proper target of the “more” and “less” (btw, do you see what I mean? “intense” by itself isn’t a term of comparison. You need to introduce “more” and “less” for this… but more and less what?). However, I’ll also admit that I’m at a loss to suggest a better term. Maybe this is the kind of thing that merits it’s own category, and eventually we’ll just say that something is more or less ASMR… doesn’t quite have the same ring to it though…
It seems at the moment that the answer is no. Not everybody reports experiencing this sensation. Most people discover it by accident in their childhood, however some adults experience it for the first time. If you haven’t experienced ASMR before, it might just be that you haven’t found your personal triggers yet. Check out our article detailing the common triggers to see if any of them do it for you.
I’m not really sure if I have ASMR or not – I literally discovered it was an actual thing a few minutes ago – but I am very sensitive to sounds. Certain chord progressions or note progressions in songs, and other sounds like people eating watermelon give me the tingling feeling described. But I also get the opposite. For some reason, certain sounds make me feel queasy and sick (like the sound of someone pulling a string through their fingers). Is this ASMR, or related? Or if it’s not, does anyone know what that is?
Because ASMR is such an individualistic experience, different triggers affect some people more than others. Not everyone experiences ASMR to the same intensity and the effects can differ from person to person. However, ASMR is most commonly described as a pleasurable "tingling" sensation that begins in your scalp and creeps its way down your neck and your back, sometimes spreading out to the limbs. Others describe it as "goosebumps on the brain" and "warm chills," a shivering feeling you might get if someone was gently tracing their finger down your spine. Some say it's like the pins and needles sensation when your foot falls asleep, but pleasurable instead of painful. These tingles are always accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of peaceful relaxation and euphoria; many people report feeling their anxiety slip away, and they often fall asleep afterword.
My most intense experiences were triggered by a human voice. The sensations rise up from my upper back and shoulders and wash over my neck and scalp. By mentally replaying these voices I could repeat the sensation but for a shorter period and not quite as intense. I’ve just discover this is ASMR and I am fascinated by other’s experiences with this incredible euphoric sensation. Oh, and it’s entirely non-sexual for me as well.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to experience the tingling though. It’s like meditation — for some it works and for others it doesn’t, but the soft-spoken videos can help calm the anxious parts of the brain. Finding your own personal trigger could also help. Some common triggers are whispering, scratching and tapping, blowing, pages turning, concentration on a task, touching the head and Bob Ross.
I have never heard of ASMR or its triggers, but having just read the article – all I can say is THANK YOU! I have wondered for years why certain things like just silently “humming” the tune of song inside my head induces a full body reaction (goosebumps), or as the author mentioned, someone brushing my hair, or lightly running fingertips over my skin – my arms especially – induces goosebumps. It is such a pleasant soothing feeling but I never knew why. I’ve spent my adult life thinking I was “weird” but I guess I”m not. The soothing arm rubbing I’ve experienced since a child – I used to pay my younger siblings to rub my arms for me..= ). I will definitely read up more on this.
And just last month, Richard and colleagues published data that shows results of fMRI brain imaging scans for 10 individuals (who all previously reported experiencing ASMR) as they watched an ASMR video and reported feeling the sensation. The parts of the brain active when we’re socially engaged with others, when we feel empathy, and when our brain’s reward centers are on, appeared to be active when people said they experienced ASMR.
For instance, you’re probably familiar with soap cutting ASMR videos, which sound like a xylophone, or emptying a bag of Scrabble letters onto a table. But more broadly, ASMR posts generally seek to trigger an autonomous sensory meridian response—a tingly feeling provoked by certain noises and sensory inputs. The community is huge: there are currently over 5.3 million Instagram posts tagged under #ASMR on Instagram (the genre is hugely popular on YouTube, too.)
The term ASMR was coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen, a 39-year-old penetration tester. “For years I thought, ‘Jeez, maybe I have a brain tumour or something,’” she recalls. From 1999 onwards, Allen searched steadfastly for others like her online. In the late noughties, she stumbled upon a SteadyHealth.com forum in which a user named okaywhatever51838 discussed a “weird sensation” that “feels good”.
“For me, something about when kids whisper, it’s, oh my god, it’s so relaxing,” says Desireé Hunnicutt, Aoki’s mother, who started watching ASMR videos in 2011. Hunnicutt says she was motivated to create the AMSR Toddler channel in order to help people. “I see comments where people are like, ‘Oh my goodness, I watch every night and it helps me fall asleep,’” she says. “To me that’s perfect, that’s what we’re trying to do.”
It’s not like it even has to be that good, but if I get sudden understanding where I didn’t used to, it’s instant ASMR. For example, if I listen to a song for a long time in a foreign language, and later on read the lyrics while listening along, I start to understand what the singer is going for, and why they held certain notes longer etc, and that’s a trigger.
Just curious if I’m alone in this– I don’t get ASMR from physical sounds or sensations, but I get it VERY strong from certain songs or concepts that have emotional impact, or from having an understanding of some sensory experience (such as a song) that I didn’t before. It doesn’t matter whether the emotion means anything to me, personally, but if the singer sounds like they mean it it’s a trigger.
Replies to this post indicated that a significant number of other people had experienced the sensation which "okaywhatever" described - also in response to witnessing mundane events. The interchanges precipitated the formation of a number of web-based locations intended to facilitate further discussion and analysis of the phenomenon for which there were plentiful anecdotal accounts, yet no consensus-agreed name nor any scientific data or explanation.