We’ve all seen those ASMR videos circulating the internet. But what exactly is ASMR, and what’s happening in our brains?

SeekerPublished: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018
Published: July 10, 2018Updated: July 11, 2018

For some, hearing and seeing certain videos can cause a “tingling sensation.” It can start across their skull and down their spine and it’s usually paired with an intense feeling of relaxation. It’s been called “brain tingles,”or  “brain orgasms,” but as of now, it goes by A-S-M-R. Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.

Awareness of ASMR has been growing since the early 2010’s, with video views in the millions, AND its reputation has piqued the interest of science researchers who want to know what’s going on behind this phenomenon. And, to be honest, we don’t know a lot. The term, ASMR isn’t even defined in scientific literature -- Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response -- was coined on an online forum not by a scientist.

What “tingle heads” are trying to describe is the body’s involuntary response based on what it’s seeing and hearing. A 2015 study took the responses of 475 participants who experience ASMR and found consistent visual and auditory stimuli across the board.Participants experienced tingles to slow movements, soft whispering, or “crisp sounds” -- like tapping. Of course, different people react differently to the tingles -- for some it’s a stress reliever, and for others it makes them so relaxed it helps them sleep.

The thing is, this is all self-reported by “ASMR enthusiasts,”, so another study tried to get some concrete evidence right at the source -- the ol’ noodle. Researchers used fMRI scans to study the brains of a small group of people -- half of whom had ASMR. They focused on the resting-state network or default mode network (DMN).  The DMN is a system of interacting regions of the brain that light up when the individual is NOT focused on external factors. Like, say, when you’re daydreaming All they looked for was a difference in brain structures. Not what the tingles did to the brain. And though it wasn’t a large sample size, what they found was interesting.   This video, "We’ve all seen those ASMR videos circulating the internet. But what exactly is ASMR, and what’s happening in our brains?", first appeared on seeker.com.

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