"Seven years later, ASMR is having a pop culture moment—even if many of those who use it don’t know what the acronym stands for. The phenomenon’s most popular practitioners have more than half a million subscribers, and the doyenne of ASMRrtists, Maria of Gentle Whispering ASMR, has been so successful that she’s been able to quit her job to role-play soothing cosmetologists, librarians and flight attendants full-time. But what is ASMR? What function does it serve, who is drawn to it, and why? Or, as researcher Craig Richard puts it: 'Why are millions of people watching someone fold a napkin?'
Kelly knows that she inspires other kids to take up ASMR – children at school ask for advice on how to make popular YouTube videos. At one football game recently, kids swamped Kelly for photos. “It was like… crazy,” Kelly whispers dramatically. “I went with friends and we walked past this group of cheerleaders and they all got quiet. They came up one after another and were like, ‘Let’s take a picture.’”
I must admit that I had never heard of Bob Ross before I discovered ASMR, and chances are that if you live outside America this will be the case for you too. Technically speaking Bob Ross is simply provides a good combination of many of the other common triggers, but because of his widespread popularity as an ASMR trigger I thought he was worth mentioning on his own. The great thing about being triggered by Bob Ross is that you can buy full length DVDs so you can quickly and easily get some ASMR going from the comfort of your couch.
ASMR is described as a pleasurable tingling that begins in the head and scalp, shimmies down the spine and relaxes the entire body. Maria — she asked that her last name be withheld for safety reasons; her videos have sometimes attracted unwanted attention — experiences ASMR, and her YouTube channel, GentleWhispering, melds her personal tingle-triggers with others suggested by her fans. The resulting videos have drawn more than 87 million views, making Maria the premier celebrity of a controversial but increasingly recognized phenomenon.
But the phenomenon has nonetheless burst into the mainstream, thanks to mounting media coverage and a few high-profile references: “Saturday Night Live” alum Molly Shannon gushed to Conan O’Brien about her “head orgasms,” induced by the methodical touch of airport security pat-downs; novelist Andrea Seigel shared her experience with ASMR on the radio program “This American Life” last year; the “Dr. Oz” show has featured ASMR videos as a way to ease insomnia.
Unusual choice of name.. big smiles, I can turn it on or off without my normal triggers, but only just discovered that today when I read an article about it… WOW!! Other people do this too…. I have had this all my life…history leaves room for improvement and I believe this has been an escape from that for me. Dont be lonely!! Crikey, those goosebumps are hard to come by for some people and are a friend in themselves. Not strange, I always freak out going to hairdresser or watching gift wrapping, sure they can see my goosebumps which are SO not sexually motivated!! but until now I have always thought that would be assumed..which is SO wrong, Thank god for waiting rooms and health magazines! All I need to do get a tingle is recall the one I felt this morning.
Yang Haiying is a soft-spoken Asian woman with thousands of videos uploaded to her Youtube account. The videos cover a whole bunch of topics ranging from painting to cooking to the making of tea. I’ve only seen her tea-related videos, but she has the kind of voice that will shiver you right up—and she knows it, too. Some of her videos are titled and tagged as “Inadvertent ASMR,” so she definitely knows the power of her sweet voice.
The video was designed for people who experience “ASMR”. Short for “autonomous sensory meridian response”, ASMR is a euphoric feeling certain people get from specific auditory stimuli. Those who experience it have different triggers – such as whispering, chewing or tapping – and also experience different bodily responses; some feel tingles, others become incredibly relaxed.
"Good evening, this is Maria again with you. This video is going to be dedicated to your relaxation," says the young, blond woman in a soft voice. She moves slowly from the left side of your screen to the right, and you feel her whispering voice deep within each ear. She picks up a hairbrush, running her fingernails along the bristles and tapping the back of it. She blows into your ear and tickles you with a feather. As the video continues, you begin to feel increasingly relaxed and your eyes droop. The whole time she is speaking gently to you. "We come home and we want to relax," she whispers, petting the camera. "We want someone to pat us on the head and say how good we are. We want someone to comfort us, to tell us that we're so great...that we're appreciated. You are appreciated."

I say “dis-analogy” because when you think about it, ASMR is nothing like an orgasm, and in fact is closer to the exact opposite of an orgasm on the spectrum of things that feel good. Orgasms are short intense bursts that are characterized by tension, desire, need, etc. ASMR often involves letting go, relaxing and just being at peace. I think ASMR is a more anticipatory sensation, where often times the anticipation is actually better than the thing anticipated. But the anticipation of sex, without actual sex is for most people extremely frustrating.

Having had enough not so good conditions (bipolar, ADD, panic attacks), it feels so good to have this one! Since ASMR seems to be triggered by so many things, I'm with the people who get tingly responses from certain types of touch (massage, scalp massage) and certain sounds (put me on on a boat or train and I'm in happyland). Strangely, whispering, tapping, folding laundry have no effect at all or are even annoying. Have also bought a few hypnosis CDs and they actually irritate the crap out of me and I hate guided meditation! But soft speaking voices are my main non-physical trigger. If I listen to certain presenters on Radio National Australia, This American Life etc, I can't drive because it's too hypnotic. Very blissful though :). For those who have the condition, you'll find your trigger even if it's not in the top 5.

Kelly knows that she inspires other kids to take up ASMR – children at school ask for advice on how to make popular YouTube videos. At one football game recently, kids swamped Kelly for photos. “It was like… crazy,” Kelly whispers dramatically. “I went with friends and we walked past this group of cheerleaders and they all got quiet. They came up one after another and were like, ‘Let’s take a picture.’”

I can trigger it at will, whenever I want with any kind of intensity as I please. I can concentrate the sensation in any place of my body, say tip of a single finger or my whole body. But, I want to know, is it wrong to abuse it? Or is it good? What can happen if I continue using it? By the way, I don’t need external stimuli to activate it, just the desire to do it, it’s like moving your hand.


I’m so glad I read these few posts before I commented on my experience, and asked what the best thing may be for me that is non physical. I was a child care provider for 20 years, and the first time I experienced what your describing as an adult, was when one of the babies crawled to my painted toe nails, and started touching my toes very softly. The feeling was so soft, so gentle and she looked so cute with her concentration on those red toe nails lol. The feeling was not sexual in anyway, it felt like love exhaling from my soul, and my head neck and arms felt like goose bumps but very soft and tingly. After that, I found that playing drawing games on our backs with the kids, was how to feel that everyday. Honestly, kids touch sooo gently, they are so naturally innocent, it feels like an angel pacing through your body, and I often would fall asleep with them when we did it at nap time. This feeling of such innocence seems to be a trigger for me. So how do I find that feeling with no human touch? As a child, my mother would put me to sleep with what our family calls “ticky”, its very soft touch with the fingers gliding across your arm or back and neck. It’s a sure way to fall asleep, but how do u get that tingly feeling in your scalp without touch? And I had one of those head massagers before, he’s it felt nice, but nothing like how u can relax from someone else’s touch on your skin so soft it’s like a skin wisper. Sigh, I have no one who gives me human touch. And haven’t for many years now. I feel so alone physically ( not sexual). Sorry for such long note, but I have not slept in weeks, literally, I can’t sleep more than an hour or two, and not until sunup. I’m so physically and mentally exhausted, I cry for God’s help at night. PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS! I need the simplest and fastest suggestions, thanks. Sad Sue xo.

In a 2012 blog post, Steven Novella, an academic clinical neurologist at Yale University School of Medicine, compared ASMR to migraine headaches — “We know they exist as a syndrome primarily because many different people report the same constellation of symptoms and natural history,” he wrote — and theorized that ASMR could even be a type of “pleasurable” seizure.


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I am 69 female and have gotten a tingling in scalp in certain situations since I was a child. Just love it although it doesn't happen as often as when I was younger. Unfortunately, none of the videos did it for me and I don't ever remember seeing any youtube, etc that did it. Has to be real life. Someone comes to vacuum my office once a week. I get the tinglin feeling every time she's there. Of course, someone combing or styling my hair does it (more likely to happen if it's random and informal vs a haircut at the salon). Or someone giving me instructions and showing me how to do something (a simple, physical task) will trigger it. I try to hold onto it but it is so often too fleeting a sensation.
Most importantly for Hunnicutt, Aoki seems to love making videos. Like most five-year-olds, she loves trying on her mother’s lipsticks, but unlike most five-year-olds, Aoki was encouraged to rummage in her mum’s make-up bag – and a camera captured the results. “I put all the lipstick on!” Aoki grins, explaining this video was her favourite to make.
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.
Hey, my name is Topaz and i have a question about my ASMR. I’ve been looking at youtube videos wondering what asmr was and trying to figure out if i have it aswell, then i thought about it. When ever some one slides the tip of their fingers through my hair and slowly pulls on the strands of my hair (not pulling it out) i get that tingly sensation on my head and on my neck for me to shrug my shoulder, I was wondering is that’s an asmr? Also,I like when some one or myself lightly slides their fingers on my arm, as well as the lower half of my back and on the sides of my neck just below the ear. Is that a sign of asmr? I tried to be specific as possible, please respond back and help me, Thank you c:
I experience this occasionally. The strongest occasion was approx 12 years ago. I was in the “High Country” NE Victoria, North of a town called Mansfield. I was out hunting Sambar Deer, 10 K’s from my off sider and in open bush land. About 1 Hr prior I came across droppings from wild dogs which were prevalent in the area and a real problem for farmers. I had this sensation all over my head and down my neck, it scared me. I had the feeling someone, something was watching me and was a bit shaken. I pulled myself together and continued my hunt. Never came across any deer or anything else that day.
I just recently learned of ASMR even though I’ve been experiencing the sensation my whole life. What I find so funny is how many ASMR fans and artists love Bob Ross. My family always joked at how much I loved watching Bob Ross growing up and I was never able to fully describe to them the sensations I was feeling. I used to seek out sounds that gave me the ASMR sensations and discovered there were many of them.
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.
Because ASMR is such an individualistic experience, different triggers affect some people more than others. Not everyone experiences ASMR to the same intensity and the effects can differ from person to person. However, ASMR is most commonly described as a pleasurable "tingling" sensation that begins in your scalp and creeps its way down your neck and your back, sometimes spreading out to the limbs. Others describe it as "goosebumps on the brain" and "warm chills," a shivering feeling you might get if someone was gently tracing their finger down your spine. Some say it's like the pins and needles sensation when your foot falls asleep, but pleasurable instead of painful. These tingles are always accompanied by an overwhelming feeling of peaceful relaxation and euphoria; many people report feeling their anxiety slip away, and they often fall asleep afterword.
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.
But the phenomenon has nonetheless burst into the mainstream, thanks to mounting media coverage and a few high-profile references: “Saturday Night Live” alum Molly Shannon gushed to Conan O’Brien about her “head orgasms,” induced by the methodical touch of airport security pat-downs; novelist Andrea Seigel shared her experience with ASMR on the radio program “This American Life” last year; the “Dr. Oz” show has featured ASMR videos as a way to ease insomnia.
But the phenomenon has nonetheless burst into the mainstream, thanks to mounting media coverage and a few high-profile references: “Saturday Night Live” alum Molly Shannon gushed to Conan O’Brien about her “head orgasms,” induced by the methodical touch of airport security pat-downs; novelist Andrea Seigel shared her experience with ASMR on the radio program “This American Life” last year; the “Dr. Oz” show has featured ASMR videos as a way to ease insomnia.

So many people have experienced the ASMR sensation as long as they can remember and for a long time many searched for visual aids on TV and YouTube. Shopping Channels, Antiques Roadshow and Children’s art shows to name a few have in the past been regularly frequented by people looking for instant triggers for their ASMR. However Bob Ross and his show ‘The Joy of Painting’ is considered by many to be the Godfather of ASMR!
Wow similar and different from me. I listened to ASMR every night for about 6 months when I felt tingles for the first time. It was for probably less than 2 seconds, then a month or two passes before it happens again. But it is happening more often but still randomly. Some weeks I do not get the feeling, other times it is multiple times a week. But every time it is for less than 3 seconds. I am questioning if it is just pins and needles but feels nice because the asmr is so soothing. But you are the first person I have found who had a “delayed” experience. My brain might just be making this up due to my repeated listening and intense research into the subject.
Payton is part of an ASMR wave that is attracting millions of viewers to videos that are intentionally designed to trigger the tingles. They feature people whispering into microphones, carving or crushing soap, and giving personal makeovers. In less than 10 years since the term was coined, oddly satisfying ASMR content has gone from a fringe concept on message boards to a global internet phenomenon.
If you want to find out more about ASMR Videos or how to find them check out the ASMR Videos page. Often the most successful ASMR videos will include a variety of triggers, and sometimes that combination can produce much more of an effect than the isolated triggers themselves, for some good examples of this check out our round-up of cranial nerve exam videos.
In the first peer-reviewed article on ASMR, published in Perspectives in Biology in summer 2013, Nitin Ahuja, who was at the time of publication a medical resident at the University of Virginia, invited conjecture on whether the receipt of simulated medical attention might have some tangible therapeutic value for the recipient, comparing the purported positive outcome of clinical role play ASMR videos with the themes of the novel Love in the Ruins by author and physician Walker Percy, published in 1971.[5]
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