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The Science of ASMR:

 "Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a tingling somatosensory phenomenon that begins in the scalp and extends to the back of the neck, arms, and legs. However, feeling relaxed and positive even when no tingling occurred, suggesting possible relief of chronic pain and coping with anxiety (Barratt and Davis, 2015Morales et al., 2021)."

ASMR simulates real-life experiences with a focus on inducing tingles through auditory and visual stimulation. The visual stimulation comes from the ASMRtist performing a role-playing session, which provides personal attention to the recipient. The recipient also enjoys the visual stimulation by watching the ASMRtist use their hands to manipulate objects.

The object manipulation is where the auditory stimulation occurs. Auditory stimulation, also known as "triggers," comes in many forms, a few being tapping sounds, crisp sounds, nature sounds, crinkling and smacking sounds, as well as soft whispers. 

ASMR triggers are grouped into five categories: Watching, Touching, Repetitive Sounds, Simulations, and Mouth Sounds, however, some triggers do not fall into any of these categories, as ASMR is a highly personal and wide-ranging event. (Fredborg et al., 2017).

 

"As a motivation for using ASMR, Barratt and Davis (2015) reported that ASMR helped 98% of participants to relax, 82% to sleep, 70% to cope with stress, and 80% to have a positive effect on mood . . . In a survey study, ASMR videos showed potential to improve mood and alleviate symptoms of insomnia and depression (Smejka and Wiggs, 2022). Poerio et al. (2018) also associated ASMR experiences with increased positive mood and relaxation." (source: https://rb.gy/c5zvki)  

How ASMR Affects Your Brain:

Researchers have found ASMR has to do with how our brains respond to certain stimuli. 
 

"In one small 2018 study , 10 participants had their brains imaged in an fMRI machine while viewing ASMR videos to see what was actually going on. When the participants felt the classic tingling sensation, their brains showed activity in the areas that control emotion and empathy as well as areas associated with social engagement and related activities (bonding, for example).

In another study done in 2023, auditory stimulation was thought to play the most important role among triggers as the "difference in brain activation sites suggests a difference in mental health effects between auditory and audiovisual stimulation. Audiovisual stimulation showed activation of the middle frontal gyrus and the nucleus accumbens, whereas auditory stimulation showed activation of the insular cortex."  (source: https://rb.gy/c5zvki) 

The same study shows "ASMR is useful for mental health." It is widely used by people to relax, induce sleep, reduce stress, and to alleviate anxiety. Even if one does not feel a tingling effect, they still use ASMR to experience these calming and relaxing effects. 

Beyond that, the researchers suggest that ASMR may cause the brain to release certain neurohormones. They explain that people report feeling sleepy, comforted, and relaxed with ASMR and that the neurohormones dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins are closely associated with these feelings."

The science shows ASMR benefits us by: improving our mood, aiding in better sleep, helping people reach a "flow state" to reach deeper concentration levels, and to aid with pain by allowing people to relax. (source: https://rb.gy/hp3l8v) 

 

 

 

ASMR has always been with us

ASMR has always been with us, even if we didn't have a word for it when we experienced it. The term "ASMR" was created in 2010, however, researchers say many people are experience ASMR since early childhood. (source: https://rb.gy/0tvno4). 

 

A study in 2017 found ASMR mirrored the relaxation techniques involved in meditation and yoga, as it also slowed the breathing and heart rate of people. "Preliminary research suggests that ASMR shares sensory pathways with experiences like becoming elated by a piece of music or feeling a shiver of delight at something aesthetically pleasing. One study used magnetic resonance imaging to visualize the brains of people experiencing ASMR. The researchers reported seeing significant spikes in neural activity in the regions of the brain associated with emotion and reward." (source: https://rb.gy/0tvno4). 

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