There are two ways that people can experience ASMR. You can experience it through simple meditation or just thinking about a scene or sound that pleases you. Or you can experience it through watching a video or listening to a recording. As for the mechanisms at work behind ASMR, nobody is quite sure why some people react the way that they do. It could be that the videos remind you of your childhood (perhaps, for example, you watched your mom do the same action as a kid, so it’s comforting) or that the simple sounds lull you into a relaxed state. Ready to give ASMR a try? Find some videos on the YouTube channel for GentleWhispering, ASMR University, and ASMRlab.
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.
NBC News: "Why some researchers say 'brain tingles' could be the next big trend in relaxation" — "Have you ever felt a static-like or tingling sensation on the top of your head when someone brushes your hair or whispers to you? The feeling may travel down your arms and your spine, and it likely makes you feel very relaxed. Some call it a 'sparkly' feeling, and it might happen when you hear someone crinkle a piece of paper or when someone traces a word on your back.
Imaging subjects' brains with fMRI as they reported experiencing ASMR tingles suggests support for this hypothesis, because brain areas such as the medial prefrontal cortex (associated with social behaviors including grooming), and the secondary somatosensory cortex (associated with sensation of touch) were activated more strongly during tingle periods than control periods.
Some have called ASMR a "brain orgasm," but let's clear up one of the biggest misconceptions around this sensation: it's rarely sexual for anyone involved. While ASMR videos are often incredibly intimate, involve roleplaying aspects, and feature young, attractive women, the vast majority of their viewers (both male and female) enjoy them as a method of relaxation. In fact, the Swansea University study found that only 5% of participants reported using ASMR for sexual stimulation.
Hearing a bedtime story may still lull you to sleep, but it might help more if the reader whispers it. Or if they gently tap their foot, or just shuffle papers around for a few minutes. Confused? There's a growing subculture of insomnia- and anxiety-plagued people who find solace in these kinds of repetitive sounds, a relaxation phenomenon known as autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR). (This magical GIF can also help reduce anxiety, stat.)
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.