28 October 2013


Ran into this randomly and then it turns out to be a huge community with hundreds of thousands of users that participate.  Never heard of it but love the concept, and pretty much everything about it and the fact that the internet creates things like this.  Helps that it's pretty weird too.

ASMR stands for: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.  The phenomenon refers to certain sensory stimulus, usually auditory, that create a sort of itchy-orgasmic sensation in your scalp-brain-upper-neck area.  (Meridian is supposed to mean orgasmic, though I thought it meant a brain structure of some kind like right-left.)  In most cases, it puts subjects into a hypnotic, relaxed state unlike anything else.  It can cure insomnia, anxiety and most things within this realm of psychic ill.

ASMR enthusiasts started talking about the effect back in 2008, realized other people felt it and started banding together under the preface that only some people actually experience it.  They are all adamant that the effect is different from hearing an inspirational piece of music that may alter your mood and make the hair stand up on the back of your neck in a euphoric response.

I wasn't even sure of the effect until I experienced it myself.  Watching a video of numerous 'triggers', a man lightly tapped his fingernails on the back of a clipboard and my brain went crazy.  It was between itching, tickling and pleasure.  Less on the pleasure side and definitely not relaxing.  Definitely happened.  Definitely strong.  Something someone might get addicted to.

Science hasn't logged in on this one yet, but Yale School of Medicine is looking into it with a study this year.  Of the theories I've read, the most plausible is the infant experience.  Sounds that calmed you while an infant trigger relaxation.  Quiet whispering from a female voice, cloth or skin rubbing sounds, ears touched, and hair brushing are among the most common relaxing sounds.

ASMR enthusiasts sometimes run into triggers accidentally.  This random YouTube video attracted the attention of ASMR experiencers because of its' low, slow English accented voice and cloth sounds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4l4khCUnIM

The community has spawned a group of ASMRartists that are talented in video and do non-sexual roleplaying scenarios meant to relax you.  The community got flack for a while when the YouTube public thought it was some kind of perverted sex thing.

The best videos include binaural audio.  Not an easy thing to pull off.  Trance and ambient music artists pioneered this effect of two microphones or complex mixing that imitates sounds moving around and inside your head.  The realism is something you've probably not experienced outside of a movie theatre.

This whole subject has got me thinking.  Since ASMR is different for everyone, what if you could hack your own brain response?  Collect your personal set of sounds that relax or stimulate you.  Collect the sounds and have them at the ready on your cell phone to play at will.  Immediately change your mood!

I don't think anyone is unique in experiencing this effect, it's just a matter of finding out your own triggers.  For the most part, I find the roleplaying videos extremely relaxing even if they aren't giving me the "experience."

At this point, all you have to do is search "ASMR" on YouTube.  Here's a couple of my favorites:

This next one has the video preview disabled because it's near a million hits and YouTube is going to start charging for popular videos.  But you gotta check it out: