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.
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.
The ASMR sensation is incredibly relaxing and the videos made on Youtube are to trigger that feeling. However since they began in 2009 their popularity has grown very quickly and a huge worldwide community alongside. Viewers describe how watching ASMR videos specifically have helped them to overcome insomnia, anxiety, PTSD and times of depression. As well as using them for general relaxation, pain management, focus meditation during childbirth, a means of falling asleep quickly and background sounds during the night or during study. Viewers find the content creator’s videos to be nurturing and comforting too. We’re also seeing more and more testimonies from parents with Autistic children who use the videos for sensory stimulation and those who simply like to enjoy cuddle time with their little ones whilst watching.
OH.MY.GOD. I just read an article in, of all places, the Daily Mail (I know, shame on me) which lead me to this. I have tried a few times to explain this sensation to people and they look at me like I’m deranged, so I stopped. And then I discover here that it’s a real ‘thing’, and then I discover someone whose trigger is exactly the same as mine! Other people touching things that belong to me! That’s it. It only happens then. The last time it happened was when my children were babies and people touched them. Before that it was things like my pencil case or books when I was at school. Then, when I was older, it was things like my make up bag. Weird. Anyway, I hear ya, and I’m so amused to have discovered that other people have it too.
A: People think it might be like a fetish community, almost. But it really is a relaxation technique and a community. There’s been a couple studies on it, actually. Basically, people who experience ASMR have their heart rate go down — they are physically relaxed — so it’s the opposite of sexual arousal. It is something that we think you have or don’t have. Some people say, “Oh, my gosh, this makes me want to punch somebody,” and that’s called misophonia. Sometimes some types of ASMR won’t work for some people, and that’s all right. I recommend trying one. There are so many kinds to check out.
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 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".
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.
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.
It’s been described as a “brain massage”, and people all over the world watch similar videos – usually someone seeming to give you their undivided attention – to de-stress or drift off to sleep of an evening. Experts explain that it’s about feelings of intimacy and empathy. If you think this sounds like a weird sex thing – no, as it happens, this isn’t a weird sex thing, though the phenomena has been nicknamed a “brain orgasm”. In 2015, a study found that 98 percent of ASMR-loving respondents use the videos to simply relax, while for 70 percent it was stress relief. Only 5 percent said it’s about sexual stimulation (for those people, may we recommend the very whispery ‘Je T’aime Moi Non Plus’ from Jane Birkin and Serge Gainboroug…). There are plenty of songs, too, with evocative sounds – brittle beats, tongue clicks and more – that’ll appeal to those who experience ASMR.
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.
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.
The bizarreness of this footage means ASMR isn’t without controversies. In June 2018, the Chinese government banned ASMR videos, branding them “vulgar” and “pornographic”. In August, PayPal began blocking the accounts of ASMRtists who received money to make custom videos (although the company later denied it has a policy against ASMR content). For those who don’t experience ASMR, the videos can seem fetishistic. Beyond the weirdness of whispering and making “mouth sounds” as in Kelly’s honeycomb video, some people nickname ASMR a “brain orgasm”.
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.