If you’re not one of Payton’s 443,000 subscribers, then you’re probably currently asking yourself something along the lines of, “Why the heck do people want to watch someone eat a pickle?” The answer, quite simply, is ASMR: or autonomous sensory meridian response. This term is used to describe the sensation, normally a tingling, that people get in response to an auditory or visual cue (like someone eating a pickle). It’s been described as a type of auditory-tactile synesthesia, and it can be triggered by everything from whispering to the crinkling of wrapping paper. The term was coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen, the founder of the first Facebook group for people who experience the phenomenon, and it has been referred to as ASMR ever since.
And while the sensory things CAN aid in the effect, and the videos can work, unlike the other times, it is only if I allow it to because I can recall the sensation and somehow tap into it based on associated memories. The whispers to me are part of this because for me it meant someone cared enough to share something special with me. Same with the hair sensations. I felt special/loved when people did my hair. Therefore getting my hair cut or washed by a hairdresser will not usually cause it on its own other than the fact that I have had decades to tap into similar memories and call it up.

"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."
Hidden on YouTube among the videos of aspiring singers crooning Justin Bieber and amateur gamers playing FortNite is a star unlike the others. Her name is Spirit Payton, and her claim to fame is making noise. In her most popular video, with upwards of 13 million views, you’ll find her noisily chewing pickles next to a microphone. Yes, 13 million people have watched Spirit eat pickles—and they love it. Welcome to ASMR.
Not everybody experiences ASMR, so it could be you fall into this group. Alternatively your triggers might simply be more obscure. If you can’t find anything that triggers the ASMR sensation for you, the only other way (that I know of) to experience the sensation is with a head massaging tool called the orgasmatron. Personally this produces tingles that are much more intense than any other ASMR trigger for me.  It is also a great way to explain the ASMR sensation to other people. They’re really cheap too.
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?
Mockery is a problem for any child in the limelight – one of Jacob Daniel’s fellow ASMRtist United founders quit YouTube after being picked on at school. Kelly says there are rumours that one girl at school said she was “annoying”, but most people think her channel is “cool”. Yet Kelly isn’t just a famous ASMRtist – she is also a meme. On social media, people edit her videos into short clips and share them with relatable captions.

I was not a loser or social outcast. I had many friends but just preferred sci-fi and geeky interests to school politics. I had loving parents. I have had MANY positive interactions and attention. So I am still curious why certain interactions that seem identical will cause it and others wont. I have searched for years trying to understand the difference.
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)
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.
There are more of you! This is awesome. The only pattern I recognize that triggers my Asmr is that the person is usually a stranger. Sometimes but not always I am being taught or something is explained to me. People who don’t understand seem to think i am describing some form of attraction but that has nothing to do with asmr for me. I have actually been shocked by certain people that have triggered it. It’s definitely a “it takes two” thing for me. I have to be near the person. It’s almost like they are transferring something to me. Really weird to type asmr I have never been able to explain it to anyone and end up feeling a little crazy when I do try. I accidentally stumbled across this when trying to find this other sensation I have been getting for the last year or so when I’m tired. If I am relaxed watching tv/laying in bed and I hear an unexpected sound I get the half second electro type pulse/buzz in my head. It’s not painful but no enjoyable either. I get it a lot. Happens most when my phone dings from a text. Motion can trigger it as well but sound seems to trigger it more often. Anyone heard of Or experience anything like this?
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.

‘Attention Induced Head Orgasm’ was the first recorded name for this experience and can be found when searching for ASMR origins. I believe (unfortunately) theres always going to be a sexual association. Also, the fact our body is flooded with endorphins also gives those who either a) lack in knowledge and b) the media a reason to think ASMR has such a strong sexual link.
I remember the first time i experienced ASMR: I was laying on the couch when i was 5, I think i was having bad dreams and wanted to sleep closer to my parents. The dryer was going and my head was tingling the whole time. I will never forget that first time. Just this year i found out about the ASMR community and i finally have the answer that i have been looking for! So happy!

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.
So. I found out about this roughly… an hour ago. And holy… what an hour it’s been. I didn’t even know I could feel this type of stuff (although for most it seems to be in their head/scalp/neck etc, for me, it’s in my chest.). My biggest trigger seem to be taps… from the crisp tap to a low thump. One thing I am noticing though, is how many girls do the videos (I can understand this, as a female voice generally has a more relaxing effect.) but I was wondering how many people prefer a male voice? Any preference to accents, etc.
Anyway, I have no problem sleeping, ever. I usually have a problem getting to bed, because I fall asleep wherever I’m sitting. My big problem is being intimate. If I’m in the middle of business, and I start thinking about my girlfriend’s body touching parts of the right side of my body, I start getting severe tickles and I’ve tossed her to the side because it’s too much for me. It’s one of those things where you tell yourself not to think about it, but it makes you think about it more. My right knee is the worst part. Anyone comes near that knee, not even touching it – they could just sit next to me, and if their leg touches my knee occasionally – I get tickle fits.
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i don’t know if this is too late to post this here, but I can do this thing that I start in my ears- it kind of sounds like thunder.. and it kind of travels down into the area between my shoulder blades.. sometimes i can do it so intensely that I can shudder. This only becomes an involuntary action when I’m sick. I never thought anything of it before, and past google attempts at “making thunder sounds in your ears” and other silly variations turned fruitless. I don’t know if this is the same thing you guys are talking about it, but if anyone wants to talk to me about it- I’m all ears!
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.
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.
Okay, science may never explain the shoe thing. But scroll through these lists, and the array of triggers is largely consistent: classical music, haircuts, movie trailers, Bob Ross, more Bob Ross, lots of Bob Ross, the painter best known for his popular instructional videos. Forget the bucolic landscapes; these Ross fans are fixated on his calming baritone and the rustle of his brush on the canvas.
My most intense experiences were triggered by a human voice. The sensations rise up from my upper back and shoulders and wash over my neck and scalp. By mentally replaying these voices I could repeat the sensation but for a shorter period and not quite as intense. I’ve just discover this is ASMR and I am fascinated by other’s experiences with this incredible euphoric sensation. Oh, and it’s entirely non-sexual for me as well.

I cannot believe that I just found out about ASMR shivers! I never knew other people experienced this or that it even had a name. I thought it was just something that happened to me when I watched people draw (esp on my arm like as in high school) or some yoga instructors voice would make me feel that way. Also I also watch this one Seinfeld clip on youtube over and over because it would make me feel relaxed and almost in a trance. And I thought it was strange so never told anyone and then I saw someone's comment that they got ASMR shivers from the clip and BAM came upon this site. This is crazy!


I have experienced this sensation for years and whenever I try to explain it to others they look at me as if I am strange. This happens to me every day when one particular delivery man comes to my office to bring parcels, he has such a quiet voice, and a slow methodical way about him. I wish he would stay longer so I could enjoy the sensation for longer !
Maria says that she hears from subscribers, including doctors and psychologists, who are excited by the ASMR research. But mostly, she gets thank-you notes — from people with anxiety or sleep disorders, from overwhelmed college students struggling through exam week, from military veterans who tell her that her videos offer a sense of calm that they can’t find elsewhere.
The term ASMR was coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen, a 39-year-old penetration tester. “For years I thought, ‘Jeez, maybe I have a brain tumour or something,’” she recalls. From 1999 onwards, Allen searched steadfastly for others like her online. In the late noughties, she stumbled upon a SteadyHealth.com forum in which a user named okaywhatever51838 discussed a “weird sensation” that “feels good”.
The most popular stuff discussed amongst ASMR community is whispering and tapping – and I get it a bit from that – but one thing is, I know that when the person is addressing me (or the camera as it may be), that seems to dispel ASMR for me. In fact, I’d say a pre-req for me to ASMR is that I am in the role of passive observer – perhaps that speaks to my personality? I know I have introverted tendencies. That leads me to the first of my questions:

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.
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.

It now drives an entire industry on YouTube, where video artists rack up millions of views filming an array of audio and visual triggers for their viewers: They whisper, tap their fingers, flip through pages of a book, play with slime, slurp up noodles, make “mouth sounds” and even role-play scenarios like a spa visit or a doctor’s appointment — anything to evoke the sensation.


I have just found out about ASMR, and never knew there was an actual name for how I became so mesmerised by certain things. I don’t get tingles or anything physical, just get so entranced by the “thing” that nothing else matters, and I end up staring like a hypnotised fool at whatever the trigger has been! haha! Mostly it is aural, like accidental whispering (I don’t enjoy the deliberate whisper videos on Youtube), crinkling of packages (again, accidental, not deliberate), or sometimes it is visual, like someone quietly playing with their hair, or gently rummaging in their bag for something.


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.
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…
On 12 March 2012, Steven Novella, Director of General Neurology at the Yale School of Medicine, published a post about ASMR on his blog Neurologica. Regarding the question of whether ASMR is a real phenomeonon, Novella said "in this case, I don't think there is a definitive answer, but I am inclined to believe that it is. There are a number of people who seem to have independently experienced and described" it with "fairly specific details. In this way it's similar to migraine headaches – we know they exist as a syndrome primarily because many different people report the same constellation of symptoms and natural history." Novella tentatively posited the possibilities that ASMR might be either a type of pleasurable seizure, or another way to activate the "pleasure response". However, Novella drew attention to the lack of scientific investigation into ASMR, suggesting that functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation technologies should be used to study the brains of people who experience ASMR in comparison to people who do not, as a way of beginning to seek scientific understanding and explanation of the phenomenon.[39][40]
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