"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?'
"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?'
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.
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".[29]
I have always had AMSR but thought that it happened to everyone. I started watching trigger videos about 3 years ago, however my biggest trigger (not one that anyone else has and also one I don’t get to frequently engage in) is rubbing my bare feet on unfinished wood. Those tingles are ridiculously strong. I need to find a dock somewhere… I feel bad for people who don’t experience this.
I have a lot of the “normal” ASMR triggers, but I also get HUGE tingles from the sound of people running a circular saw, band saw or arc welder. Does anybody else get “head-numbies” from machinery — if so, have you found a source for good triggering? The best I have been able to find are PBS shows like New Yankee Workshop or old episodes of This Old House. I have spliced together different “machine” audio files to create longer trigger files, but they never seem to work as well as those files that are created by someone else.
A: I’ve been watching ASMR for about eight years. I was a horrible sleeper and could never go to bed, so I was just always watching YouTube on my phone. I stumbled on one of the videos, and I literally never stopped watching. When I was a film major, I was always into YouTube; I loved the internet culture; I loved everything about ASMR. I was so familiar with the community and who was in it and the little nuances. I was like, “If I’m going to start a YouTube channel, I think I would do ASMR.” I didn’t think anyone would like what I had to offer, but I knew I wanted to take it seriously.

Over the past few years, videos like this have exploded in popularity on the platform. Millions are tuning in to watch strangers whisper into their microphones, tap their fingernails, fold napkins, or roleplay as a comforting nurse—all to help viewers experience a tingling, relaxing feeling known as autonomous sensory meridian response, or ASMR. It may seem bizarre and uncomfortably intimate and maybe even a little creepy the first time you watch an ASMR video, but the creators behind these videos have a truly benevolent intent: to help their views relax, fall asleep, and find relief from the stress of their everyday lives.
I frequently get seemingly random shivers throughout my body that last for a moment or two. To give these shivers some context, I was told this is what happens when "someone walks over your grave," (don't know if you guys have heard the expression?) Could these shivers be momentary glimpses of a real ASMR experience, or something else entirely? I've never really paid much attention to them before.

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)

It's funny - for me some of these clips didn't quite work. But they sure did for my rabbit who listens to various forms of media - tv, radio, conference calls, me - most of the day. He usually is quite a passive listener and will only occasionally respond with ear turning or a change in position that shows he's listening to something different that has caught his attention.


You can find ASMR videos in many genres on YouTube. Lately, though, there is a growing body of food-related ASMR. There are ASMR artists who tape themselves opening a bag of fast-food, making sure that the act of unwrapping is a loud, crinkly affair. That follows with chewing the food, the microphone so close, the audio so amped up, that even swallowing is audible.
A group of psychologists at the University of Sheffield published a paper earlier this year in the journal PLOS One that reported for the first time that people who report experiencing the sensation actually do appear to have a physiological response: their heart rates tend to slow down. The researchers recruited 112 individuals, half of who reported experiencing ASMR and the rest of whom reported not experiencing the sensation and monitored everyone’s heart rate while watching an ASMR video.
A: I’m so happy more people are hearing about it. It’s been very positive, just considering how weird it can seem to some people. A lot of people have misconceptions about it, but the more we’re talking about it, the more it’s understood. It used to take me forever to explain to someone what I do, but now they’re like, “Oh it’s that relaxing thing, right?” People have started understanding what it is, so I think it’s great that it’s going mainstream.
For many years I had no clue what asmr even was. I just knew I could think and hear things and it happens. I was eating lunch yesterday, I had a sarano pepper. I usually have a pepper of some type with at least one meal a day. This pepper was multi colored, very different from my norm. I have never, had a response from eating any food. Within a second or so of biting into this pepper, my head was going insane. Far more intense than any response before. So intense I stopped eating and waited several minutes for it to calm. Wanted to test it again more bites equaled more response. I kept the pepper, it had a very diffrent flavor from any I had before. I want the seeds!!!! Lol. Anyone had this happen to them? I’m shocked and have never heard of actual food triggers. These responses we’re intense and a quite a bit longer. I actually stopped eating the pepper, as after the 4th round my head felt tired and that I would get a head ache.
Emotionally, Kelly and Daniel seem equipped to deal with this backlash (Aoki Hunnicutt remains blissfully unaware of any negativity, and also much else about YouTube fame – at one point during our interview, she asks with concern, “Mummy, I thought we were going to do an interview?”). Yet while they are fine with their fame, it may trouble the young stars to lose it.
Okay, I’ll look those up. Thank you! Unfortunately, I don’t have many opportunities to experience ASMR in real life because I am house-bound from chronic illness, and am restricted to bed rest at the moment. I don’t have any friends here in town- one friend lives in Australia, another lives in Germany, and the last one lives on the other side of the state from me- and most of my real-life triggers are centered around other people. I will definitely give those videos a try! Even without the tingles, most ASMR videos are so relaxing to me that they actually calm me down, even when I am in a ton of pain! And trust me when I say that that is no small feat!
Binaural recordings are made specifically to be heard through headphones rather than loudspeakers. When listening to sound through loudspeakers, the left and right ear can both hear the sound coming from both speakers. By distinction, when listening to sound through headphones, the sound from the left earpiece is audible only to the left ear, and the sound from the right ear piece is audible only to the right ear. When producing binaural media, the sound source is recorded by two separate microphones, placed at a distance comparable to that between two ears, and they are not mixed, but remain separate on the final medium, whether video or audio.[35]
The least sexual and most Spiritual ASMR I’ve ever had was when I was traveling in the Holy Land, and a man trained as a Jewish Cantor (http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/what-is-a-cantor/) recited/sang a prayer in a Baha’i Temple. My entire body throbbed with the sound that poured out of that man’s soul My skin felt so tight I could have been a clothing size smaller, the tingles of deep joy coursed in whirls under my skin, my blood pounding through my veins. If you’ve ever watched videos of sand on top of speakers… it felt like that man’s voice was having that effect on my body, changing the very cell structure, just with the sound of his chanting. It was amazing. It was incredibly intense. And definitely spiritual.
A: I thought it was awesome. They hit the nail on the head. You can tell they did their research: They had the binaural microphones, had her whispering back and forth. They had tapping, nice sounds. They definitely watched content and had done their research on what ASMR is supposed to be. They, of course, blew it up, made it Hollywood, used a big budget, and so it was very cool. They were accurate.
Interesting… wait… is… a type of ASMR when you get goosebumps and it feels amazing- it’s one of the best feelings I know- to have someone rub their fingers or drag them lightly across your armor the back of your neck? Because ever since I was a child I have loved that feeling (I always annoyed my mother getting her to do it XD) and I sometimes do it to myself, which doesn’t work as well because it’s me doing it, but still feels good.
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.
Hi I’ve had these sensations all my life. Can anyone else have these sensations by just thinking? It took me time but now I can control the way the waves go ie left side or right side, half way down or all the way down the legs and how strong the sensation is but always starting at the head. I’m sure everyone gets the sensation when listning to music and other stuff like that but can anyone tell me if others can control this sensation and if it is used in meditation? I get this sensation when relaxing but also when im in some kind of threat and it makes me more calm in case I need to defend my self. some times I cant control it and happens when im out and about but most times control able, its like electric tingles that go in waves one after the other and you can hold one wave for awhile in one spot of body, just thinking about is giving me the tingles.
She has invested in her craft, upgrading to top-notch binaural microphones that carry every exhale into a listener’s ears as if Maria is standing beside them. Her videos, like most ASMR recordings, are undeniably intimate. But the intended response — although often described as “brain orgasms” — is not sexual, ASMR enthusiasts insist. (Unsurprisingly, a few of the creepier online comments insist otherwise.)
Among the category of intentional ASMR videos that simulate the provision of personal attention is a subcategory of those specifically depicting the "ASMRtist" providing clinical or medical services, including routine general medical examinations. The creators of these videos make no claims to the reality of what is depicted, and the viewer is intended to be aware that they are watching and listening to a simulation, performed by an actor. Nonetheless, many subjects attribute therapeutic outcomes to these and other categories of intentional ASMR videos, and there are voluminous anecdotal reports of their effectiveness in inducing sleep for those susceptible to insomnia, and assuaging a range of symptoms including those associated with depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.[17][18][19]
×