Smithsonian: "How Researchers Are Beginning to Gently Probe the Science Behind ASMR" — "The burgeoning Internet phenomenon was so new, it didn’t even have a name. It was so strange and hard to describe that many people felt creepy trying. It resided at the outer edge of respectability: a growing collection of YouTube videos featuring people doing quiet, methodical activities like whispering, turning magazine pages and tapping their fingers. Some viewers reported that these videos could elicit the most pleasurable sensations: a tingling feeling at the scalp and spine, coupled with euphoria and an almost trance-like relaxation.
An article titled "An examination of the default mode network in individuals with autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)" by Stephen D. Smith, Beverley Katherine Fredborg, and Jennifer Kornelsen, looked at the default mode network (DMN) in individuals with ASMR. The study, which used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), concluded that there were significant differences in the DMN of individuals who have ASMR as compared to a control group without ASMR.
I’ve expereienced ASMR since childhood. Listening to Bob Ross was one of the more memorable, but I would also tap my pencils and school supplies, and leaf through books to get the same sensations. When I found ASMR videos on Youtube I first learned it was called “ASMR”. I didn’t know it had a name. Since then, I’ve watched lots of ASMR videos, and I’ve reached “immunity” on some triggers – tapping doesn’t work for me as well as it used to, but it works better after taking long breaks away from it. Slient hand movements in some of the reiki/aura cleansing videos work well. The triggers that affect me most now seem to be more visual now than auditory. Massage ASMR, Free Spirit ASMR, LuneInnate and Rose Harmonics are the Youtubers I follow who do lots of hand movement triggers. I also really like Ephemeral Rift, ASMR Node, and RaphyTaphy (even if their styles tend more to tapping, which doesn’t work as well for me any more).
Upon first glance of some of the types of videos, the slow movements, close proximity to the camera, the soft voice. Some people assume quickly that all of this is to sexually arouse the viewer. After all we are bombarded with sultry images each day in our media. However everything that happens in the video is to induce ASMR. Those that begin to feel relaxed and enjoy the sounds realise that very soon after settling down to their first videos. Others are not sensitive to it and can’t understand. That’s fine too. Some people are just more sensitive to sound and touch than others.
Austrian writer Clemens J. Setz suggests that a passage from the novel Mrs. Dalloway authored by Virginia Woolf and published in 1925, describes something distinctly comparable. In the passage from Mrs. Dalloway cited by Setz, a nursemaid speaks to the man who is her patient 'deeply, softly, like a mellow organ, but with a roughness in her voice like a grasshopper's, which rasped his spine deliciously and sent running up into his brain waves of sound'.
When your hungry or when your thristy, upon drinking or eating your brain feels allot better. When consuming it your brain triggers natural dopamine activations in the brain signaling a rewarding behavior. (note that this is done on a regular basis when using alcohol or drugs, where the drug invades the brain dopamine receptors thus requiring a higher dose of whatever the person took, to get the same experience.
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?
One category depends upon external triggers in order to experience the localized sensation and its associated feelings, which typically originates in the head, often reaching down the neck and sometimes the upper back. The other category can intentionally augment the sensation and feelings through attentional control, without dependence upon external stimuli, or 'triggers', in a manner compared by some subjects to their experience of meditation.
I have been experiencing ASMR right from my childhood on many occasions, notably when I get personal attention, for example when a tailor takes the measurements. I do experience ASMR during hair cuts but to a lesser degree. The intensity is more when I get my moustache trimmed, a final ritual of my hair cut. It might sound weird to you, but I am trying to explain iin detail so that you get a better understanding of ASMR for different people.
Just as the reasons vary, so do the triggers. A 2015 study examined ASMR triggers and found that whispering was the most common, with 75% of participants saying it caused body tingles. 64% of participants cited "crisp sounds," like the crackling of foil or tapping of fingernails, as triggers, and 53% said "slow movements," like pouring water, were triggers. Although different people prefer or only react to certain triggers, they typically seek them for the same reason: the physical and emotional side effects.
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).
That could be the beginnings of asmr yes. This is how it starts for me but I don’t always need to be touched to get it the tingling can start by watching an ASMR video or seeing something in everyday life that will trigger it also. Maybe look on YouTube and try out a few different videos and see if you trigger but even if you don’t that doesn’t mean you don’t have it. Some aren’t triggered by artificial means and need a genuine real life trigger to feel ASMR. Just try out different things or get someone to play with your hair for a while and you will know for sure if you have it.
The first time I remember ASMR I was in pre-school and a girl who was normally not nice to me was kind to me. I think she tied my shoes for me. To this day, this is the strongest trigger. My Twitter name (I am the mom over our geeky pack) is a clue to why this did not happen all the time. I was not popular though well liked in my group of uncool kids. So when the popular kids or someone I held in high regard (teacher, etc) gave me attention that was above and beyond, my whole head would tingle.
Aside from the pleasurable sensation that ASMR offers there are a range of other benefits. Many intentional ASMR videos are essentially forms of guided meditations, meditating regularly has been shown to reduce stress levels and aid concentration among many other things. For a lot of people ASMR is a gateway to developing an ongoing meditative practice.
When you listen to these videos that are meant for relaxation, you’ll hear quiet whispering and breathing, fabric on fabric, all noises that will activate this neurological response and help you to find relaxation and and get you to drift off to sleep. It allows you to feel safe and warm and tucked into bed, which allows us to disengage our worry and fear.
Yes, i used to meet with a woman once a month. She would get to my desk and start talking. I felt i was in a trance, like she was affecting my brain waves. She had had a brain injury and surgery. I later met another lady who was a neighbor and she had the same effect on me. It was later discovered that she had a brain tumor. I’ve never had that experience before or since except sometimes fluorescent lights cause the same feeling.
While little scientific research has been conducted into potential neurobiological correlates to the perceptual phenomenon known as 'autonomous sensory meridian response' (ASMR), with a consequent dearth of data with which to either explain or refute its physical nature, there is voluminous anecdotal literature comprising personal commentary and intimate disclosure of subjective experiences distributed across forums, blogs, and YouTube comments by hundreds of thousands of people. Within this literature, in addition to the original consensus that ASMR is euphoric but non-sexual in nature, a further point of continued majority agreement within the community of those who experience it is that they fall into two broad categories of subjects.