Participate in a research study about ASMR and mindfulness

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityEleanor Osborne-Ford is an undergraduate student, majoring in psychology, and pursuing her BSc Degree at Bath Spa University in the UK.

Her dissertation is investigating the relationship of ASMR and mindfulness and is titled, “Investigation into traits of absorption, mindfulness and state of flow in individuals who experience ASMR and controls.”  Dr Agnieszka Janik McErlean, an established ASMR researcher, is her mentor for this study (see HERE for publications).

Eleanor is looking for individuals to take her online survey.  The survey is open to individuals who do or do not experience ASMR, and who are aged 18 and over up to 35 years old.  The survey is anonymous and should take about 20 minutes maximum.

The survey will remain open until 200 individuals have participated.

Below is a link to the online survey and more info.

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First published study to show brain activity during ASMR

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityI’m happy to share that I am one of the co-authors of the first published study to show brain activity during ASMR.

The study is titled, “An fMRI investigation of the neural correlates underlying the ASMR” and was published by Bryson Lochte, Sean Guillory, Craig Richard, and William Kelley in the journal BioImpacts on September 23, 2018.

One of the biggest questions about ASMR is, “What is happening in the brain?”  Although this study doesn’t fully answer that question, it is the first data to provide some direct insights.

Participants quietly layed down in fMRI machines, watched ASMR videos, and  their brains were scanned during moments of brain tingling – and then those brain images were compared to moments without brain tingling.

The brain regions that were strongly activated during ASMR were similar to those regions activated when humans, and other animals, perform soothing social behaviors – known as affiliative behaviors.  Typical examples of affiliative behaviors include calmly sitting close to each other, touching each other gently, and mutual grooming.

So how exactly was this study done?

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ASMR commercials – a growing trend

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityIn 2015, Dove chocolate probably created the first ASMR-inspired commercial.

In 2016, more companies followed, including Pepsi, KFC, and Ritz Crackers.

And since then, the list has been growing steadily to include Ikea, Applebee’s, McDonalds, Renault, Toyota, Sony, Zippo lighters, MTV, Behr paint, and more.

I won’t say they all succeeded in making ideal ASMR-triggering videos – some definitely understood ASMR better than others.

But I think they all did succeed in highlighting their products or message in a relaxing way.  ASMR has inspired a new wave of commercials that don’t yell at you, push their products on you, demand you buy right now, and add to your daily stress.

These commercials almost seem to say, in a gentle voice, “I’m here.  You are there.  We can be together if want.  Or you can just relax, ponder it, and sleep on it.  And feel free to watch me again if you found this experience soothing.  Tomorrow’s a new day.”

Interested in viewing these low-key, relaxing commercials?

I’ve just created a new page on this website dedicated solely to ASMR-inspired commercials.  I will keep adding to the page as more are produced, so feel free to revisit it occasionally to see the list grow.

Visit the new page: ASMR Commercials

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“Brain Tingles”, the first how-to guide for stimulating person-to-person ASMR

I’m happy to share that my book “Brain Tingles” has recently been published by Simon & Schuster and is now available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The focus of the book is to help individuals learn the types and key principles of ASMR triggers for stimulating person-to-person ASMR.  The book covers how to use light touch, gentle sounds, soothing voices, and calming activities to bring the blissfulness of ASMR to people in your life.

The book is also filled with quotes from ASMR artists, quotes from those who experience ASMR, and references to ASMR research findings –  tying together the practice, experience, application, science, and hypotheses about ASMR.

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Graduate student completes research study about the role of ASMR in the service industry

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian ResponseI posted a prior article titled, “Participate in a research study about the role of ASMR in the service industry.

Good news, the research study is completed and some results are now available.

The researcher was Vladimir Fedoseev, a graduate student pursuing his MBA at the Varna University of Management in Varna, Bulgaria (a partner university of Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales).

His dissertation focused on the involvement of ASMR in the service industry and is titled, “Effect of Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) on Service User Experience”

He investigated how ASMR triggers, like soft speech, gentle sounds, careful hand movements, light touch, personal attention, and kind personalities, might effect experiences with hairdressers, doctors, hotel clerks, and others in the service industry.

In this second interview with Vladimir he reviews the details of his methods and shares some results of his research project.

One curious observation I noticed in his results is that gentle sounds, soft speech, and personal attention were the top triggers perceived by participants to cause ASMR in services, but the services with increasing reliance of light touch (like a hairdresser) showed increasing likelihood of stimulating ASMR.  This could imply that light touch is a stronger contributor in service-mediated ASMR than the participants realized.

Below are my questions in bold, his replies in italics, and links to learn more about his research project.

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Undergraduate student investigates psychoacoustics of ASMR trigger sounds

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityAnders Köhler recently graduated from the University of Skövde in Sweden with a Degree of Bachelor of Arts and majored in Media Arts, Aesthetics, and Narration (Game Development – Sound).

His examination project investigated the psychoacoustic properties of ASMR sounds and was titled, “A study of scratching sounds within ASMR in a neutral sound environment.”

Anders’ goal was to try to find  patterns and properties in ASMR trigger sounds.  This is a terrific quest.  What is special about crinkling, tapping, whispering, and scratching sounds that make them so blissful and delightful to ASMR enthusiasts?

He focused his project on scratching sounds and utilized state-of-the-art tools and methods to dissect the sound profiles.

In my interview with Anders he explains his goals, research design, and shares a table of his data with a full explanation of what he discovered in his project.

Below are my questions in bold, his replies in italics, and links to his study, a video summary, and his Facebook page.

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Published research study examines how expectations can affect ASMR

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityDaniella Cash, Laura Heisick, and Megan Papesh from Louisiana State University and Agricultural and Mechanical College in Baton Rouge, LA have published a research study about expectations and ASMR.

The study is titled aptly, “Expectancy effects in the ASMR” and was published August 22, 2018 in the journal PeerJ.  Links to this paper and a follow up commentary paper are at the end of this article.

I’m often asked why only some individuals experience ASMR.  The answer is that no one knows.  Yet.  The easiest answer could be that the response is dependent on a specific gene sequence – you either have it or you don’t.

But life is never that simple.

It is believed that experiencing ASMR is more likely to occur while being in a relaxing setting, having a calm mind, selecting a preferred trigger type and style, and even perhaps not being on specific drugs or medications which could interfere with ASMR.

What about the influence of life experiences, culture, or expectations?   Particularly expectations.  Expectations could be a part of the magic behind the placebo effect.

Could the placebo effect explain ASMR?  Or what about vice versa?  Maybe ASMR could explain the placebo affect in specific cases?

Visualize a clinician handing you a pill – that is a moment filled with personal attention, caring behaviors, a soft voice, and probably the light touch of their hand on yours, as well as, a reassuring hand on your back as you walk out of their office.

How about meeting with a therapist on a regular basis?  A weekly dose of hyper-focused personal attention from a trained expert with a soft and steady voice – that is an ASMR recipe.  If therapy sessions help you feel calmer, then is it the wisdom, the insights, the ASMR, or all of that which bring you serenity?

In this study, the authors investigated if expectations can affect ASMR – an important question indeed.

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Published research study about mindfulness and ASMR

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityBeverley Fredborg, James Clark, and Stephen Smith have published another ASMR research study titled, “Mindfulness and ASMR.”  The study was published August 7, 2018 in PeerJ.

The goal of this study was to investigate the potential relationships between ASMR and mindfulness.

In their introduction, they provide these descriptions of mindfulness:

  • “…a two-component process by which one engages in both intentional self-regulation of attention and a nonjudgmental awareness and acceptance of the present moment.”
  • “…involves an openness to sensations, attentional control, emotional regulation, and resilience.”

The authors then highlight the similarities between mindfulness and ASMR:

  • “…the focused attention method of mindfulness meditation requires individuals to focus on a specific external stimulus or internal thought…During ASMR experiences, individuals focus attention on an external stimulus that triggers tingling sensations.”
  • “Both mindfulness and ASMR can lead to a feeling of relaxation that enhances people’s subjective well-being.”

These similarities definitely make one wonder if mindfulness is a form of ASMR, if ASMR is a form of mindfulness, or is there some other relationship?

The authors also teased out more data about ASMR and trigger preferences, age of onset, similarity to music chills, and frequency of using ASMR media to help with relaxation and sleeping.

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Published research study focuses on misophonia and ASMR

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityThis is the second ASMR research study published by Dr Agnieszka Janik McErlean (Bath Spa University, UK) and Dr Michael Banissy (Goldsmiths, University of London, UK).

Their prior study was titled, “Assessing individual variation in personality and empathy traits in self-reported ASMR” and was published March 30, 2017 in the journal Multisensory Research.

Their latest study is titled, “Increased misophonia in self-reported ASMR” and was published August 6, 2018 in the journal PeerJ.

Misophonia is common in discussions about ASMR because some people greatly enjoy ASMR trigger sounds like whispering, mouth sounds, and chewing but others will respond to those same sounds with annoyance, anger, or anxiety (misophonia).

Curiously, some people who report experiencing ASMR to some triggers also report experiencing misophonia to other triggers.  This hyper-sensitivity to sounds has people often wondering if people who experience ASMR are more likely to also experience misophonia.

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Jimmy Kimmel features ASMR on late night talk show

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityJimmy Kimmel explored the curious world of ASMR videos – with the help of kids.

This week, his late night show on ABC featured a 5 minute segment of him talking to kids about ASMR.  The kids explained ASMR and they watched ASMR videos together.

I thought the kids did a great job of explaining ASMR, with enjoyable moments of amusement between the host and the kids.

I’ve added Jimmy Kimmel to my growing list below of almost 50 actors, musicians, and other well know individuals who have discussed ASMR or attempted to create ASMR triggers.

Scroll down the list below and tap on Jimmy Kimmel’s name to watch his funny ASMR round table with the kids, and tap any of the other famous names to see how they are exploring ASMR.

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