I am 69 female and have gotten a tingling in scalp in certain situations since I was a child. Just love it although it doesn't happen as often as when I was younger. Unfortunately, none of the videos did it for me and I don't ever remember seeing any youtube, etc that did it. Has to be real life. Someone comes to vacuum my office once a week. I get the tinglin feeling every time she's there. Of course, someone combing or styling my hair does it (more likely to happen if it's random and informal vs a haircut at the salon). Or someone giving me instructions and showing me how to do something (a simple, physical task) will trigger it. I try to hold onto it but it is so often too fleeting a sensation.
Any cursory Googling will bring up videos from the doyenne of ASMR, an Eastern European woman named Maria who goes by the handle GentleWhispering and who constantly sounds like she's on the verge of crying as she attempts to trigger the chills by blowing into a high-tech microphone or folding towels. Her most popular videos have reached over six million views.
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.
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.
She made her first ASMR video in February 2011, filming herself as she leafed through a journal and played with seashells. The video logged just two views in a month, and Maria was so disappointed that she deleted it. A few months later, she tried again; this time, there were a few encouraging comments. She kept at it, and by the end of the year, she had 30,000 subscribers. Nearly three years later, she has more than 300,000.
I relate to much of what has been said in this conversation thread. I remember as a child, young, maybe seven… my punishment for disobedience or back talking was to stand in the corner. The corner was made by the cold wall and the refrigerator. The refrigerator was old and would kick on often blowing warm air through the crack between it and the wall. I did not know why I got tingly but I loved it and remember asking if all my punishments could be to stand in the corner. It believed it was the difference of temperatures between the wall and the refrigerator motor that caused it. Now, as an adult, I still sit over heat vents with my cheek or arm rested against the wall. I wonder why sometimes it is so intense. I get the tingles that crawl all the way down to my toes and cause a mild jerk or convulsion that sets it off again. I have synesthesia and also wonder if that serves to increase the frequency or intensity of the feeling…
I have definitely had this sensation many times from sexual activities, or leading up to them, as foreplay. Also while masturbating from about age 2 and up, instinctively using effleurage upon my own skin, as I comforted myself to help me sleep. I don’t see why anyone would be troubled if this phenomenon is associated with sexuality. It is undoubtedly sensual, and so is sex, so it is natural for there to be some overlap.
It seems at the moment that the answer is no. Not everybody reports experiencing this sensation. Most people discover it by accident in their childhood, however some adults experience it for the first time. If you haven’t experienced ASMR before, it might just be that you haven’t found your personal triggers yet. Check out our article detailing the common triggers to see if any of them do it for you.
I’ve always had this triggered by intense personal attention on either me or something I’ve done. In particular, having someone stare intently at something I’ve written or drawn on paper (or imagining/remembering that type of incident) triggers it very consistently. Intensely focused photography of myself or a body part (not sexual) also is very effective. I was recently watching a sporting event and noticing the camera tracking the athletes – just imagining how the athlete would feel with this non-stop camera attention was also a trigger. Dentists don’t really do it for me, but regular checkups with any sort of focused attention on any body part works. There’s something about the very concept of another person finding either me or my ideas/thoughts interesting enough to examine at length. A glance is just not enough. It’s kinda funny but this has triggered like a dozen times just while writing this comment out and thinking about these things!
However, the truly novel findings came from a second experiment, when 110 participants viewed ASMR videos while connected to biological feedback machinery. After watching the videos, the heart rates of people with ASMR slowed on average by more than three beats per minute. And their skin conductance levels—a measure of physiological arousal – were significantly increased compared to those in the non-ASMR group.
Nothing can currently be definitively known about any evolutionary origins for ASMR since the perceptual phenomenon itself has yet to be clearly identified as having biological correlations. Even so, a significant majority of descriptions of ASMR by those who experience it compare the sensation to that precipitated by receipt of tender physical touch, providing examples such as having their hair cut or combed. This has led to the conjecture that ASMR might be related to the act of grooming.
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.”
Austrian writer Clemens J. Setz suggests that a passage from the novel Mrs. Dalloway authored by Virginia Woolf and published in 1925, describes something distinctly comparable. In the passage from Mrs. Dalloway cited by Setz, a nursemaid speaks to the man who is her patient 'deeply, softly, like a mellow organ, but with a roughness in her voice like a grasshopper's, which rasped his spine deliciously and sent running up into his brain waves of sound'.