Dr Nick Davis from Manchester Metropolitan University spoke to WIRED’s Louise Matsakis about ASMR and the ways it affects the brain and body. In 2015, Davis co-authored one of the first ever papers on ASMR, titled ‘Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): A flow-like mental state.‘
This sensation is widely reported to be accompanied by feelings of relaxation and well-being. The current study identifies several common triggers used to achieve ASMR, including whispering, personal attention, crisp sounds and slow movements. Data obtained also illustrates temporary improvements in symptoms of depression and chronic pain in those who engage in ASMR. A high prevalence of synaesthesia (5.9%) within the sample suggests a possible link between ASMR and synaesthesia, similar to that of misophonia. Links between number of effective triggers and heightened flow state suggest that flow may be necessary to achieve sensations associated with ASMR.
I’ve described ASMR as a “brain orgasm” before but didn’t realise the ASMR abbreviation refers to it, as Dr Davis explained:
[…] I study ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response—autonomous meaning “happens to yourself” so it’s something that you experience yourself, sensory because it’s purely sensory you don’t have to do anything you don’t have to make a movement to make it happen, and meridian response is a euphemism for orgasm and I think ASMR has been described as the sort of brain orgasm or head orgasm and I think that’s where the term comes from.
I’m feeling the tingles already.