You’re at a Super Bowl party, heading to refill your plate with nachos, when you’re stopped by the sounds of Zoe Kravitz softly whispering into microphones and gently tapping her nails against a bottle of Michelob Ultra. You’re captivated, oddly relaxed and even feeling a little tingly. You, my friend, have just experienced ASMR — or autonomous sensory meridian response.
"Sounds that trigger ASMR are always low volume and are usually steady, rhythmic, and predictable," says Craig Richard, Ph.D., founder of the site ASMR University and author of Brain Tingles. "Our brains interpret sounds with these traits as non-threatening, which can induce relaxation—especially when incorporated with personal attention and caring behaviors."
Stronger than audio for stimulating ASMR, though, is touch, Richard said, which is why he envisions touch-mediated virtual ASMR. Picture an ASMR video. But before you watch it, you put on a special shirt and hat. As the video plays, the person on the screen simulates touching you. And you experience it because that shirt and hat are rigged to transmit the touch.
While many colloquial and formal terms used and proposed between 2007 and 2010 included reference to orgasm, there was during that time a significant majority objection to its use among those active in online discussions, many of whom have continued to persist in differentiating the euphoric and relaxing nature of ASMR from sexual arousal. However, by 2015, a division had occurred within the ASMR community over the subject of sexual arousal, with some creating videos categorized as ASMRotica (ASMR erotica), which are deliberately designed to be sexually stimulating.