I’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?
Jack 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.
A 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.
Last month I reported about a research project looking for participants to view and respond to animations of synthetic ASMR triggers.
The project is now complete and Marcus Nystrand, an undergraduate student at Beckmans College of Design in Sweden, has shared the results publicly.
Some of the results surprised us both.
Helle Breth Klausen is pursuing her Ph.D. from the Department of Media and Journalism studies at Aarhus University in Denmark.
For her PhD dissertation she will be characterizing ASMR through the experiences of ASMR video viewers.
In my interview with Helle she shares why she decided to study ASMR, her primary hypothesis and methods, preliminary results she acquired with her Master’s dissertation, and her plans to share the results from this project.
Marcus Nystrand is an undergraduate student in the Visual Communications program at Beckmans College of Design in Stockholm, Sweden.
For his graduation project he decided to create videos with synthetic ASMR triggers and survey if they are able to stimulate ASMR in viewers.
What are “synthetic ASMR triggers?” Marcus created computer-generated animations that have some properties of ASMR triggers (e.g., movements, sounds) but without the presence of human forms (e.g., hands) or human objects (e.g., brushes).
In short, his project is asking, “Can non-human motions, items, and sounds trigger ASMR?”
His animations are extremely high quality, very imaginative, and deeply mesmerizing. Will they trigger your ASMR?
Read on to learn a bit more about his project, then click the link to view his amazing videos and answer his short survey questions.
Christian S. is a junior high school student in New York. He is enrolled in an Advanced Placement course and has decided to do a research project about ASMR.
His research question is: “To what extent does Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) impact the levels of anxiety and depression in teens?”
He has created a survey for teenagers to investigate the relationship between watching ASMR videos and mental health.
Christian created questions about ASMR and also incorporated standardized questions from the Becks Depression Inventory and the Becks Anxiety Inventory to help him compare his results to other published results.
His survey is anonymous, specific for teenagers, and will remain open for about the next week.
Murray is an actor and IT technologist with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Media Technology. He currently lives in Nova Scotia, Canada with prior residence in New Zealand and Scotland.
Murray also resides on YouTube as ASMR Muzz, posting relaxing Scottish-accented videos and tranquil ASMR trigger sounds.
In my interview with Murray he shares memories of ASMR from his youth, his inspiration for creating ASMR videos, his most popular video, his challenges creating content, his tips for new ASMR artists, and how his videos may be helping others.
Research has shown that the light emitted from mobile devices can interfere with sleep.
This is a concern for individuals who are watching ASMR videos to relax their minds and fall asleep more easily.
Yet there are still plenty of online reports that watching an ASMR video does help many people to fall asleep more easily than not watching an ASMR video.
A recent research study published in PLOS Biology may help to explain this conundrum.
Using ASMR videos to improve prisoner behavior may sound like a strange idea, but could it work?
The best support for this idea comes from the American Psychological Association (APA) which recently put out a press release titled, “Can nature videos help improve prisoner behavior?”
The press release is about a research study which investigated the effects of nature videos to reduce aggressive behavior among inmates.
Did it work?