"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."
ASMR refers to the pleasurable sensation people experience when exposed to various specific triggers, either from ASMR videos or in their everyday lives. According to a 2015 study from Swansea University in Wales—the first peer-reviewed research into ASMR—whispering is the most common trigger for ASMR, with 75% of participants experiencing ASMR sensations from it. The other most common triggers were personal attention, crisp sounds (like tapping or crunching), and slow movements, as reported by the group of 475 participants.
A: I told my friends there was an ASMR commercial coming, and they thought it was funny. My friends are super supportive and tease me in a very sweet way. When it came on, they start screaming, “I’m tingling!” And everyone’s just screaming and like, “No way, this is crazy. I can’t believe this is on TV right now.” I had like 20 pairs of eyes turn and stare at me.
Replies to this post indicated that a significant number of other people had experienced the sensation which "okaywhatever" described - also in response to witnessing mundane events. The interchanges precipitated the formation of a number of web-based locations intended to facilitate further discussion and analysis of the phenomenon for which there were plentiful anecdotal accounts, yet no consensus-agreed name nor any scientific data or explanation.
It’s not like it even has to be that good, but if I get sudden understanding where I didn’t used to, it’s instant ASMR. For example, if I listen to a song for a long time in a foreign language, and later on read the lyrics while listening along, I start to understand what the singer is going for, and why they held certain notes longer etc, and that’s a trigger.
“I just tried it because I thought it would help out my channel and it did, yeah,” Kelly says of her honeycomb video. When she started her channel in March 2018, Kelly made more traditional YouTube videos – filming herself applying make-up and eating different foreign snacks. “It was exciting,” she says of going viral, “because I was like, this could actually be my dream, I’ve always wanted a lot of subscribers.”
Never heard of ASMR before stumbling on these videos on Prime. They sure seemed weird after I took a few quick looks. So... I looked up ASMR. Not much scientific research on it. Hardly any interest showing. But among the people whom it works for, the interest is huge. Apparently, large e-communities sprang up in a grass roots fashion. There are even genres and sub- genres, from what I can tell from looking into it over the last week. The guy in this video is one of the creative people exploring these positive effects that can be brought out in some people. I was surprised as hell that this video was pleasant and relaxing to me. No "tingles" for me but much relaxation. Apparently different people react to different sounds, visuals, rhythms, etc. I commend this guy and others for exploring this new-to-me aspect of at least some of us humans. If this sounds interesting to you, look into the efforts of this guy and others. Maybe you will be surprised, as I was, to find value in some of their works. Cheers! And use headphones or at least ear buds, not speakers.
There are some ASMR triggers which you will find reoccur regularly in ASMR videos. Everyone’s personal triggers will vary slightly, what works for other people won’t necessarily work for you. Running through the list of triggers below might help you find new ASMR triggers that you didn’t know about, or hadn’t thought of before. Or if you are not sure whether you experience ASMR yourself, have a look at the list and you should be able to tell by the end. Remember, these are just the most common, and won’t necessarily work for everyone, so don’t worry if they don’t all give you tingles.
Like those who posted before me, I have experienced ASMR for many years. My earliest memories are around the second grade. In my second grade class, we were required to read with partners; however, I was a more advanced reader and would allow my partner to read the entire time if he/she wanted. I would experience intense tingling around the crown of my head listening to him/her read, but I would also experience very intense tingling in the frontal lobe region watching him/her turn the book pages. Around the same time, I would intentionally watch Bob Ross on PBS (like others have mentioned) to take a nap due to the same tingling sensation and calm/relaxation he induced.
While scientific evidence is pretty scarce, the number of devotees is overwhelming: ASMR online groups and forums are flooded with stories of people suffering from unbearable and incurable anxiety or insomnia until they came across Bob Ross' soothing voice on late-night TV or heard pages gently turning in a library. (Related: Incredibly Odd Insomnia Cures People Actually Try)
The only way someone can feel what we here, obviously feel, that isn’t inflicted with ASMR. Is to go out with friends, to your favourite club, drop pure MDMA, and wait….I’ll see you on the dance floor. I’ll be the six foot seven Infantry Soldier, waiting for you to come dancing, I’ll be dancing with the biggest smile on my face, for you, dancing with friends, lovers, strangers, until we’re all fucking annihilated, lying on the dance floor, in one mind, one moment, one achievement, shared and experienced together, forever and ever and ever. Then we go home, have a shower, lie down, and feel refreshed, and wonderfully happy, exhilarated just to exist, Lying there, that very moment, is what ASMR feels like. That beautiful feeling of peaceful serenity and contentment, just to be alive and kicking, together, connected, forever. That chemically induced empathic euphoria, is the only feeling that comes close to what ASMR feels like.
If the amazing feeling from having someone (or in a lesser way myself) tickle me lightly on my arm or the back of my neck, sort of drag their fingers or fingernails lightly across my arm/neck is ASMR, then yes. I also sometimes shiver and get goosebumps if someone’s brushing/playing with my hair… I don’t know if it’s ASMR though. It seems like just being ticklish, though it’s the most amazing feeling.
When she first felt it, she had no idea what it was. In kindergarten in central Russia, Maria and her friends would sometimes tickle each other gently, running their fingers over the skin of their forearms. For Maria, the experience was transcendent, sending a cascade of goosebumps over her head and down her back: “I would be left in a zombie-like state,” she says. “I would just be so relaxed.”
While I will admit that ASMR (and sleep) is definitely the kind of thing that admits of “more” and “less” descriptors, I’m still not convinced that it is “intensity” that is the proper target of the “more” and “less” (btw, do you see what I mean? “intense” by itself isn’t a term of comparison. You need to introduce “more” and “less” for this… but more and less what?). However, I’ll also admit that I’m at a loss to suggest a better term. Maybe this is the kind of thing that merits it’s own category, and eventually we’ll just say that something is more or less ASMR… doesn’t quite have the same ring to it though…
This image from video provided by Michelob shows a frame from their 2019 Super Bowl commercial for Michelob Ultra Pure Gold. The ad features the actress Zoe Kravitz using techniques for autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR. It is described as a tingly euphoric response, usually starting on the head and scalp, and sometimes spreading down the neck, arms or back. (Michelob ULTRA via AP)
But it’s still a business, particularly for ASMRtists who hold to a strict programming schedule, solicit PayPal donations or offer one-on-one Skype sessions for a fee. Maria declined to specify her income but says that she holds a part-time administrative job and doesn’t earn enough from online ads to make a living off her videos alone — mainly because she doesn’t want her vlogging to become an obligatory burden. She’ll post a new video once per week or once per month, depending on how busy she is.
Lacy is no cliché pageant mum. Lounging on the sofa with wet hair and a grey T-shirt emblazoned with a peace sign, she sits back, scrolling on her phone, to let her child speak candidly. She does not push Makenna to answer in a favourable way, nor is she pushing her daughter into stardom in pursuit of fame or riches. “She makes significantly more money than I do and works significantly less than I do,” laughs Lacy, sitting with her legs tucked underneath her on the large brown suede sofa in the middle of the family’s modest apartment. “She doesn’t have to babysit or dog-sit or anything, so it works out good.” Makenna smiles shyly, showing off pink braces. “I do want to babysit though! I like kids.”
There is no solid data about ASMR, no published research studies — not yet. The term “ASMR” is nonclinical, coined in 2010 by a woman named Jennifer Allen who started an ASMR Facebook group and later became part of a team — along with Richard — that collected and analyzed anecdotal information about the sensation. Richard also notes the work of Bryson Lochte, a Dartmouth College undergrad who has used neuroimaging technology to study ASMR for his senior thesis but has not published his results.
The first study to perform actual brain imaging (fMRI) on subjects currently experiencing ASMR tingles (as opposed to individuals who were merely able to experience the phenomenon) was published in BioImpacts in September 2018. Subjects viewed several ASMR videos with a screen and headphones while inside the MRI scanner. The study found a significant difference in brain activation between time periods when the subject reported tingling (communicated by pressing a button), as compared to time periods when they were watching a video but not reporting tingling (communicated by pressing a different button, to control for brain activation effects caused by merely pressing a button). They concluded that "the brain regions found most active during the tingling sensations were the nucleus accumbens, mPFC, insula and secondary somatosensory cortex", and suggested that these were similar to "activation of brain regions previously observed during experiences like social bonding and musical frisson".
Being only thirteen, a new year at school always brings the excitement that I might get a teacher with one of those perfectly soft ASMR-y voices. I've only had one, but luckily I had her for two grades (grade two and three) she came from Ireland, but didn't have too strong of an accent, just enough that it would always relax me. Dang I miss that class... LOL.