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.
The second most recent and more thorough scientific study published in June 2018 shows that during the experience of ASMR the heart rate lowers considerably (In fact similarly to other Meditation practises) and skin conductivity increases. This research was conducted by Dr. Giulia Poerio of the University of Sheffield’s Psychology department and Tom Hostler, lecturer in Psychology at Manchester Metropolitan University. https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/nr/asmr-health-psychological-benefits-1.787541
It's also not something that affects everyone. Apparently only part of the population "gets" ASMR, just like not everyone "gets" magic-eye pictures or Beyoncé. It could even be a genetic thing for some, like the people who were born with the crossed wires that make them think cilantro tastes like Comet. The actual science on ASMR is scant, and some neurologists aren't sure that it even exists. Those who do think that the tingling feelings produced by ASMR might be tiny seizures. But for those who do experience ASMR, there's a wealth of material out there to give you a brain boner.
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)
I wish I could have downloaded only two tracks and they were the Affirmations; however I liked the whispers, not the lip smacking, and the whispering Guided Sleep Relaxation which does work for me. However I don't understand the role playing, gum chewing, lip smacking, tapping and listening to bags crinkle. I didn't enjoy hearing them nor do they do anything to give me my asmr fix. I have my Bob Ross dvd's for that. However my asmr fix comes from watching, rather than listening. I guess it gets down to attention to detail and I enjoy watching people paint, plastering walls and laying concrete. I'm detail oriented and I enjoy watching others perform jobs that require it. As I wrote I just wish I could have bought two tracks, instead of the whole album.
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.
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.
Addressing the issue here of the wire scalp thingy… yeah that one’s right smack in the center of Sensual. Nothing sexual about it, though – for me – nothing particularly Spiritual either. I’ve only ever seen them sold as “Scalp Tinglers”, and didn’t find it very special. I much prefer my Denman scalp massagers. THOSE trigger intense ASMR’s for me. My whole body from crown to toes feels like it’s melting in joy when I scrub my head with two of those things, one in each hand. WOW.
I've been aware of the ASMR feeling since about always, but I really thought it was something everyone got. As common as breathing, so it never occurred to me to speak about it until recently when I gave my sister a few links that made me feel these triggers and she felt nothing or was even greatly annoyed... then I came across reading about it and realized, not all people get it. (They're totally missing it, I like it a lot!)
I just found out about ASMR and I instantly knew that feeling – now I know that I am not the only one who is experiencing this! the last time it happened was when someone was changing my working computer, sitting in my office chair, installing the hardware and stuff…however it doesn’t work, if someone uses my plates or forks or toilets…it just seems to work, when the person is doing something, that I didn’t do with my objects…hard to describe it – even I can not predict, if this or that would work, it just does it or not…
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.
The main trigger though is being in large open areas with no one around, even seeing pictures of large open areas can trigger it. I used to work at a college that had several buildings, modern buildings, not ivy covered brick. One was not classrooms, but an area with offices and occasional banquets, so it was mainly empty and quiet. I used to sit there on breaks just to get that relaxation tingly sensation.Is this ASMR or something else?
These reports have precipitated comparison between ASMR and synesthesia – a condition characterised by the excitation of one sensory modality by stimuli that normally exclusively stimulates another, as when the hearing of a specific sound induces the visualization of a distinct color, a type of synesthesia called chromesthesia. Thereby, people with other types of synesthesia report for example 'seeing sounds' in the case of auditory-visual synesthesia, or 'tasting words' in the case of lexical-gustatory synesthesia.