ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, a biological phenomenon related to the perception of certain sensations associated with well-being and pleasure, such as tingling in the back, neck and head, usually as a response to auditory, visual and in some cases tactile stimuli.
These sensations are also known as “brain orgasms.” But, despite their connotation, they are not induced or linked to sexual stimuli.
Although it is likely that we have experienced ASMR for a long time in the history of evolution, the reality is that there is not enough research in this regard because it is a phenomenon recently released thanks to the Internet and social networks.
In 2007, an internet user wrote a blog post called stedyhealth.com in which he referred to certain pleasurable physical sensations, which he perceived in an endless number of daily activities, and wanted to know what name he received and if someone else had had similar sensations.
The post not only got thousands of responses, but even internet communities were created in which similar experiences were shared while looking for a name that would summarize the phenomenon.
In 2010, a Facebook user named Jennifer Allen created a group within that social network called Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response in response to the debate generated around the issue. Since then, the term ASMR was coined to refer to these sensations, generally related are tingling or tickling sensation in the head.
While this biological response may be induced by several types of stimuli, and may be perceived by each person differently, there are some characteristics that allow the identification of ASMR.
- The stimuli that trigger the sensations are essentially auditory. In a second place, there are visual stimuli and very occasionally, tactile or circumstantial stimuli.
- The triggers of ASMR are not of sexual origin. In fact, the sensations generated are more linked to calm (and even sleep), than to euphoria or excitement.
- The responses generated by the ASMR have no side effects. However, they could cause addiction, since the affected subjects could be driven to search more frequently for those trigger stimuli.
- Although studies in this regard are incipient, it is estimated that one in every thousand people has ASMR, according to data provided by the first census conducted in 2014 by the University of Swansea, in Wales, United Kingdom.
As mentioned earlier, there are several types of ASMR. Most commonly, people have a predominant type of stimulus, however, cases of people who have various types of triggers have been reported.
The trigger stimuli are usually slow, repetitive and very soft sounds, such as whispers, whispers, drumming of the fingers on a solid surface, turning the pages of a book, etc.
In this case, the individual generates a biological response to certain compositions of images, lights, colors or dispositions of objects. There is no pattern, since the arrangement of the elements can activate an ASMR response in some subjects and not in others.
The triggers of ASMR would be touches with the hands, especially if they are done slowly and steadily on the face, neck or head.
It is when the person can only have an ASMR response to very specific conditions, for example, being at a railway station and listening to the sound of the train that is arriving, seeing someone scratching their head or buttoning a shirt, etc. The stimuli are infinite, and depend on each person.
It is a type of ASMR response in which a sensation can be experienced by the occurrence of more than one stimulus, either simultaneously or separately (auditory and tactile, for example).
With the expansion of the ASMR phenomenon, and taking into account that the range of stimuli is infinite, content creators specifically designed to trigger ASMR responses in users have proliferated on the internet.
In this case, there is talk of “intentional videos”, since they are developed by the so-called “ASMRtist” (artists or creators of ASMR videos). The most popular include sounds of people chewing, tearing different textures, narrating with whispers, making combinations of lights, etc.
When the videos reproduce sounds with 3D sensation (to make the listener feel that they are in the place of the recording), they are called binaural sounds.
There are also the “unintended” videos, which are those that were not created to generate an ASMR response, but they do. Certain television programs reproduce patterns that are stimulating for some people, or there are situations that trigger an ASMR response, such as Voice of the animator, for example.