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ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response)

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Autonomic sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a tingling sensation that some people experience when exposed to particular types of auditory or visual stimuli such as whispering, tapping and slow movements. Some people also experience the phenomenon during haircuts, massages or other situations involving close attention to the head or body. Others may be triggered by watching someone else engaged in a task such as sketching a portrait or assembling a puzzle.

The sensation, generally described as pleasant, manifests as a tingle that may begin at the scalp and run down the neck and spine and possibly down the limbs as well. Proponents of ASMR report psychological benefits such as relaxation and improved mood, as well as temporarily relief of stress, insomnia, depression and pain. Many users also report improvements to concentration and attention, possibly because the experience reduces vulnerability to intrusive thoughts. ASMR is related to the capacity for achieving a flow state. Those who enter flow states more easily are more likely to experience ASMR, and those who use ASMR content regularly may also become more capable of achieving flow.

YouTube features a large and growing number of ASMR channels. As with other digital audito experiences, headphones are recommended for best effect. Most ASMR videos are audio/visual but the audio portion is often sufficient to produce results.

Here are a few examples of ASMR content on YouTube:

Someone wrapping gifts: Cutting paper, crinkling tinsel, using tape, whispering about the process.

Bob Ross painting tutorials.

A massage therapist treating a client and describing what she’s doing in a very soft voice.

A man with a Scottish accent grooming a dog.

See also: brain hacking

This was last updated in December 2018

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