Dr. Franziska Apprich received her Ph.D. in Media and Business from Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland and is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Communication & Media Studies at Canadian University Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.
She has recently been researching and publishing about several aspects of ASMR, including the benefits of ASMR in education.
Her investigations into ASMR were reviewed by the Venus International Foundation and resulted in her winning the Outstanding Scientist Award from the organization.
In my interview with Dr. Apprich she shared her motivation to research ASMR, results from her ASMR research, and the potential clinical application of ASMR in the future.
Below are my questions in bold, her replies in italics, and links to information about her award, research, and publications.
What motivated you to pursue research about ASMR?
Dr Apprich, “Inner peace. I have noticed ASMR in my childhood. Back then ASMR had no name, no label. ASMR is my inner peace, my calm in stormy times. My belief in the world and the goodness of people to make each other relax and enjoy each other’s company. It is the seed of any creativity. Only when I m at peace can I create. Only when my students can relax, can they create.”
You have investigated the influence of ASMR on studying and writing, can you explain the background and hypothesis for this study?
Dr Apprich, “Only when you are relaxed can you be creative. Our brain is a mega machine. It is complex, it is connected, it needs relaxation and stimulation as its fuel. Even while I’m writing my papers I’m listening to ASMR sounds. Silence is unnatural. We need some soft stimulation.
Ever wondered why you can write best in the morning? Well you brain is more relaxed and your brain has actually made sense of your own thoughts during the night. I have once heard that birds (while they are sleeping at night) compose their songs for the next day. I think it is a wonderful thought.
Studying is to open your mind. We often read a book but we do not really listens to its soul or facts. My research has shown that when the mind is more relaxed it can take in more information. Many researches have proven that for example learning a language while you are sleeping can be very successful. Being in the ASMR state means letting go of stress and taking in the beauty of the world and its knowledge.”
How did you design the study and what methods did you use?
Dr Apprich, “I undertook research with a neurologist center. I wanted to document the brain activity during the perception of ASMR sounds. People without any knowledge or experience of ASMR sounds were connected to the computer.”
What were the results of the study?
Dr Apprich, “The results were amazing. The brain activity showed that all of the participants calmed down, fell in a state of peace and some of them in a pre-phase of falling asleep. The eye ball movement though showed that most of them were fully conscious but in a state of calm (so not asleep). Similar to meditation but without the out of body experience. The ASMR experience is a fully conscious experience of peace.”
Congratulations on the award you received for, “The impact of ASMR on the Social Media Generation”, can you share the background and hypothesis for this study?
Dr Apprich, “I wanted to show that social media often prevents us from a state of peace and quite. It disrupts our lives. Again I think social media is a wonderful tool but it has often taken over and I can see a lot of youngsters who have become addicted to social media.
It is important to sometimes switch off and look and admire the world and the people in it. This might sound like Hippie philosophy but I think there is never enough peace and love in the world.”
What methods did you use for this study?
Dr Apprich, “I used the above discussed brain activity and eye ball movement methods. I also asked my students not to look at their phone for an entire day. It was terrible for them. They became very anxious about their friends and social media updates. I asked them to listen to ASMR sounds when feeling anxious (via their old CD players rather than phones).”
What were your findings from this study?
Dr Apprich, “I noticed that ‘unplugged’ people seem calmer. More in tune with the world. More focused. We live in a world of multi tasking. How much of it is truly necessary? Do we not create most of our pressures ourselves?
My students laughed at ASMR at first. They thought it was strange and sad that people need to be calmed down by a stranger. But now I can see how they have embraced ASMR…and in the future I would love to open unplugged seminars free of many social media pressures and full of education with a heart.”
You have also published the article, “The Benefits of ASMR in Education”, how would you summarize the core aspects of this paper?
Dr Apprich, “Only if you are relaxed can you be creative. The research has shown that students are under huge amounts of pressure. This pressure causes anxiety and depression and results in rather one-dimensional essays rather than creative pieces.
As educators we need to bring out the best in our students and to bring out the best in our students they need to feel at peace. ASMR can help with this. I have suggested to play ASMR sounds before exams so that students can feel more relaxed and in tune with the world and their own creativity.”
What ASMR research would you still like to do at some point in the future?
Dr Apprich, “I would like to try ASMR in combination with NASA research. How could ASMR help astronauts cope with the pressure in space?
I would also like to explore ASMR in regards to eating disorders. I believe that if a person relaxes and feels at peace these eating disorders may vanish. ASMR could also be used in elevators to minimize anxiety or being used during traditional massages.
Another aspect I would like to explore is to install ASMR sounds in areas of high criminal activity. This has been done in some countries via the sounds of birds singing (loudspeakers applied in trees and active even during the night) but I think ASMR would be an excellent sound to potentially minimize crime. Furthermore shopaholics should listen to ASMR before any purchase. It might bring down their spending habits.”
What do you think about the potential clinical application of ASMR for patients with insomnia, anxiety, or depression?
Dr Apprich, “As my research showed, patients with anxiety and depression felt lighter, some even stopped medication. It was truly wonderful to see how excited they became about ASMR. Even the doctors and nurseries were impressed by the scientific findings.
Our brain is still very much a mystery (even to the scientists). I believe that we need to remain open-minded (literally) to explore the depths of our brain. I come from a medical family. It is crucial for me to scientifically challenge all aspects of my research.
Fact is, there is more than meets the eye. ASMR should be taken seriously, should be implemented in more scientific research and should be celebrated as ‘peace via the pressing of a button’. The mind is a powerful tool. We should never underestimate it. The placebo effect has demonstrated this perfectly. We need to believe, we need to embrace and we need to hope.”
You are also a filmmaker and musician, do you have any thoughts about the incorporation or influence of ASMR on films and music?
Dr Apprich, “I’m sure that we could write an ASMR song and use the power of ASMR in movies. ASMR is the anti-movement of our often self-centered existence. We need to learn how to relax, how to be one, how to create peace rather than question it.
The plot of a movie could be using ASMR as a peacemaker between different parties. As an invisible force that turns hate into calm, stress into relaxation and anxiety into pleasant tingles.”
What additional thoughts about ASMR would you like to share?
Dr Apprich, “I truly think that ASMR is the answer to many of our problems nowadays. It is essential for us to make each other happy and relaxed. Our stressful every-day lives are not human anymore. They are anti-human and pro-machine.
I believe in progress, I believe in science but I also believe in the inner peace and the importance of it. ASMR means to me inner peace and love. Just imagine there is war and everybody listens to ASMR and chills out. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?”
Explore the links below to learn more about Dr Apprich and her research:
- Faculty profile
- Research Award
- Article, “The Benefits of ASMR in Education”
- Book chapter, “Chapter 2: The Impact of ASMR on Social Media Generation”
Explore the links below to learn more about ASMR Research:
- More interviews with ASMR researchers
- List of other ASMR research and publications
- Tips for conducting research on ASMR
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