Participate in a research study about watching ASMR videos

Anthony El-Chaar is a graduate student, pursuing an M.A. in media studies at Notre Dame University in Lebanon.

His research thesis is investigating the experiences and motivations of watching ASMR videos. The thesis is titled: “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response: What is the Phenomenon Behind the Tingling Sensation?”  His faculty advisor for the study is Dr. Jessica El-Khoury, Assistant Professor at Notre Dame University.

Anthony is looking for participants to take his online survey. The survey is open to individuals who watch ASMR videos. The survey is fully anonymous and the results will only be used for academic purposes. The survey will take 10 minutes maximum to complete.

The survey will remain open until 300 participants have participated.

Below is a link to the survey and more info.

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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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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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Graduate student completes research study about the body map of ASMR sensations

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityJack Stevenson-Smith completed his Masters degree 2 years ago in the School of Psychology at the The University of Liverpool, UK.

He focused his Master’s research dissertation on ASMR and it was titled, “Bodily maps of novel somatosensation: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)”

In my interview with Jack he shares the inspiration for his research, his aims, hypotheses, and methods, the challenges he encountered, some great tips for other ASMR researchers, and his special moment with Dmitri, the ASMR artist known as massageASMR.

Below are my questions in bold and his replies in italics.

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Published research study demonstrates physiological benefits of ASMR

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityA peer-reviewed research study is the first to report physiological changes while individuals experience ASMR.

The publication is titled, “More than a feeling: ASMR is characterized by reliable changes in affect and physiology” and is authored by Giulia Lara Poerio, Emma Blakey, and Theresa Veltri from the University of Sheffield (UK) and Thomas Hostler from the Manchester Metropolitan University (UK).  The research was published June 20, 2018 in the journal PLOS ONE.

The publication reported the results of two studies.  The first study involved about 1000 participants watching videos and reporting how they felt.  The second study involved about 100 participants watching videos, reporting how they felt, and having some physiological responses measured.

I will first summarize the methods and results of the first study, then summarize the methods and results of the second study.

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Published research study explores ASMR trigger preferences

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityI initially reported about this published study on November 1, 2017, but this article will now share more details and summarize the data.

The study is titled, “Sensory determinants of the autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR): understanding the triggers” and was published October 6, 2017 in PeerJ by Emma Barratt, Charles Spence, and Nick Davis.

Of historical note, Barratt and Davis were the co-authors of the first ASMR research study published in 2015.  In this new study they investigate some of the traits of ASMR triggers.

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Graduate student investigates the effects of ASMR videos on the heart rates of Highly Sensitive Persons

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityMelina Delanghe is a graduate student at Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Brussels, Belgium. She is pursuing her Master’s Degree in psychology in the Department of Biological & Cognitive Psychology.

For her Master’s Thesis, she decided to do an ASMR research project with Dr. Elke Van Hoof as her faculty advisor.

She investigated the ability of ASMR videos to affect the heart rates of individuals diagnosed as Highly Sensitive Persons and also in a control group.

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