Can ASMR be triggered by a completely internal stimulus? I get this tingling in my scalp and cheeks, then like a wave of warm fuzzy that washes through my body. It sounds very similar to what ASMR is described as, but it happens to me when I daydream about certain things. It happened to me more as a child than as an adult, in fact it has probably been several years since I had an experience until today, which led to me googling it. My trigger is visualizing/ daydreaming about somewhat exciting things gone perfect, a perfect lap on the motocross track, flying high G maneuvers, and most recently navigating my sailboat through some rough waters. I hate to admit to this because I don’t want to sound egotistical, but it doesn’t seem to be the subject of the daydream that brings about the ASMR like experience, but the thought of someone giving me recognition for my accomplishment that actually triggers it. Also, once I’ve had a response from a daydream about a particular experience, I can’t simply revisit the same daydream and have it trigger another experience. I’m 40, and have always experienced this, but I never knew how to explain it or if it were normal or not, so I’ve never even tried talking about this before.
YouTube banned Makenna’s channel for three days in November but reinstated it after discussions with the family. The company’s delayed decision against its largest child ASMRtist leaves questions about whether the phenomenon can be adequately monitored. Videos featuring the sexualisation of minors are banned by the site, and ASMR “mouth sound” videos now fall within this remit. Yet at the time of writing, a search for “child ASMR mouth sounds” on YouTube brings up hundreds of videos with a disturbing number of views.
For those who don't experience ASMR, it can be difficult to wrap your head around this "tingling" feeling and how something as simple as whispering or clicking could trigger it. But recent research has shown that ASMR is more than just a self-reported feeling—it can be measured physiologically. A 2018 study published in the journal PLOS One found that people who watched ASMR videos had a decreased heart rate in response, which can explain the intense feeling of relaxation many people report. Researchers also recorded higher levels of skin conductance in people experiencing ASMR, indicating arousal or excitement (likely due to the tingles).
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.
Many of those who experience ASMR report that some specific non-vocal ambient noises are also effective triggers of ASMR, including those like the sound of rain, fingers scratching or tapping a surface, the crushing of eggshells, the crinkling and crumpling of a flexible material such as paper, or writing. Many YouTube videos that are intended to trigger ASMR responses capture a single person performing these actions and the sounds that result.