Autonomous sensory meridian response, generally called ASMR, is a tingling sensation that usually begins on the scalp and reaches the upper spine and back of the neck. That’s a sensation that only a few people can feel and enjoy. Interestingly, you can notice the marginal differences between the multiple people while responding to ASMR. Some peoples’ feelings get triggered by particular voices while others remain neutral.

It’s a complex situation that doesn’t follow generic trends. That being said, what is the scientific explanation of people’s affinity towards ASMR?

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Laboratory-Based Research

In actuality, science still isn’t successful in cracking the code of ASMR. Auto or autonomous sensory meridian response has been tested on multiple parameters, and various experimentations are conducted under the close watch of scientific experts.

One user in 2007 triggered this discussion by sharing his unique personal feelings, and in no time, the top ten ASMRtists videos’ views shoot above 5 trillion.

A researcher at the University of Essex named Poerio felt the ASMR sensation in the whispering of people. So she went up resolving the mysteries behind the scenes. In reality, whoever first came in contact with such feelings, went on searching for scientific realities. Poerio did the same, but she didn’t get any results.

But curiosity has no boundaries, so she started studying these tingling sensations on a group of 120 people out of 50% of people who have an affinity for ASMR. After connecting electrodes, she asked participants to watch their favorite ASMR video.

She got very amazing results as while watching the video, their heart rate fell. Falling heart rate means relaxation. In contrast, emotional arousal was encountered. That was a strange outcome that activation and deactivation took place side by side.

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Craig Richard, a researcher at Shenandoah University, felt the same feeling. So, in 2018, Richard made 10 participants watch ASMR videos of their choice and then recorded their behavior with MRI machines. It concluded that ASMR triggered certain areas of the brain that have an association with rewards, social behaviors, and emotional arousal.

Richard concluded by saying, “It wasn’t too surprising to see the [ASMR’s] association with reward,” he further added, “Emotional arousal was a little bit curious because [ASMR] isn’t considered arousing in an emotional way like joy and excitement are, but it does seem to have low-grade euphoria with it.”

Richard also discussed, “someone talks to you gently, look at you with genuine care, doesn’t make any threatening movements. Then your brain automatically begins to move towards trust, which may involve this release of Oxytocin and lighting up certain areas of the brain.”

Final Thoughts

Neurotransmitters like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine, along with Oxytocin, played a vital role in ASMR. Craig Richard believes that variation in the sensitivity and number of receptors for these neurotransmitters attest to the idea of varying experiences by multiple people. Though these neurotransmitters make some level of sense but still there’s a huge gap between understanding of ASMR by science.            

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