The explanation behind this physiological reaction lies in the brain. "It's likely that the tingling is due to specific neurochemicals (like oxytocin and endorphins) being released during ASMR—and these neurochemicals are also inducing the deep feeling of relaxation," says Craig Richard, PhD, an ASMR researcher, professor at Shenandoah University in Virginia, and author of Brain Tingles. In a 2018 study published by Richard and his colleagues, they found that ASMR activated similar regions of the brain as those activated during affiliate behaviors, which includes interpersonal bonding (such as parent-infant bonding) along with grooming and care-giving behaviors that involve positive personal attention. These behaviors share similar triggers with ASMR, such as gentle touch, soft voices, focused attention, and a bond of trust.
So far there have been two scientific studies successfully published, both by researchers based in the UK. The first from Swansea University was published on PeerJ March 26th 2015 entitled ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) – A flow like mental state’ which concluded ‘We have provided the first investigation into the phenomenon of autonomic sensory meridian response (ASMR). ASMR can be induced, in those who are susceptible, by a fairly consistent set of triggers. Given the reported benefits of ASMR in improving mood and pain symptoms, we suggest that ASMR warrants further investigation as a potential therapeutic measure similar to that of meditation and mindfulness’
At the other end of the spectrum, I had a memory of a sexual experience that was such a strong trigger that for almost 15 years after the event, just thinking about that experience could trigger an actual orgasm with full body ASMR. (sorry if that’s TMI) (And don’t anyone be too jealous, I’m now old, gray, fat and long past those days in my life, but I’ve got the memories. LOL)
"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."
Richard, who is also the author of Brain Tingles: The Secret to Triggering Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response for Improved Sleep, Stress Relief, and Head-to-Toe Euphoria, estimates around 20 per cent of the population experience strong ASMR. What triggers people may come down to individual preferences. “The key to triggering ASMR is to create gentle sounds,” he says. Richard’s own triggers include eye exams and [the Netflix series] The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.
I have experienced this sensation for years and whenever I try to explain it to others they look at me as if I am strange. This happens to me every day when one particular delivery man comes to my office to bring parcels, he has such a quiet voice, and a slow methodical way about him. I wish he would stay longer so I could enjoy the sensation for longer !
I’ve always had this triggered by intense personal attention on either me or something I’ve done. In particular, having someone stare intently at something I’ve written or drawn on paper (or imagining/remembering that type of incident) triggers it very consistently. Intensely focused photography of myself or a body part (not sexual) also is very effective. I was recently watching a sporting event and noticing the camera tracking the athletes – just imagining how the athlete would feel with this non-stop camera attention was also a trigger. Dentists don’t really do it for me, but regular checkups with any sort of focused attention on any body part works. There’s something about the very concept of another person finding either me or my ideas/thoughts interesting enough to examine at length. A glance is just not enough. It’s kinda funny but this has triggered like a dozen times just while writing this comment out and thinking about these things!
I am intrigued by how vast the ASMR community seems to be. I have strange tingling sensations on the top of my head, so I typed this in to google and ASMR info appeared. On all the different sites and notice boards etc. I have not seen a description however that matches my trigger so I think I might be experiencing something slightly different. My sensations are triggered by people next to me sleeping and beginning to dream. I get the tingle and then become aware that the person is twitching the way people do when they dream. It has happened to me with my boyfriend a lot, my sister once when we had to share a bed. It also happened with a complete stranger next to me on a plane and even once with my cat when he was dreaming. It’s not an unpleasant sensation but I wouldn’t say it was the ecstatic sensory experience that others have described. It has also happened in a more everyday waking experience way, when I worked with a young man with autism who was verbalising in a way that wasn’t clear communicative speech but rather jumbly kind of talk. I am interested if anyone else has had a similar experience to this. Thanks
Ahuja alleges that through the character of Tom More, as depicted in Love in the Ruins, Percy 'displays an intuitive understanding of the diagnostic act as a form of therapy unto itself'. Ahuja asks whether similarly, the receipt of simulated personal clinical attention by an actor in an ASMR video might afford the listener and viewer some relief.