Published research study examines the content and comments of ASMR videos

Alexsandra Kovacevich and David Huron at Ohio State University have published a research paper about the content and comments of ASMR videos.

Their paper is titled, “Two Studies of ASMR: The Relationship between ASMR and Music-Induced Frisson” and was published  in Fall 2018 in the peer-reviewed journal, Empirical Musicology Review.

In this paper, the authors report the results of two studies.  The first study analyzed the content of ASMR videos and the second study analyzed comments about ASMR videos.

Below is a summary of their paper, followed by links to the published manuscript, supplementary materials, and a commentary article.

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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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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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Interview with Dr Agnieszka Janik McErlean – lead author of the research study on ASMR triggers, personality, and empathy

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityDr Agnieszka Janik McErlean is the lead author of the publication, “Assessing individual variation in personality and empathy traits in self-Reported Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.”

At the time of the publication she was a Lecturer in the Department of Psychology at James Cook University in Singapore.  In January 2018, she will be a Senior Lecturer in the Dept of Psychology at Bath Spa University in the UK.

Dr Janik McErlean co-authored the paper with Dr Michael Banissy and the research was published March 30, 2017 in the journal Multisensory Research.

In my interview with Dr Janik McErlean she shares how she became interested in researching ASMR, the goals and methods of her study, the insights she uncovered about ASMR triggers, and her findings about the personality and empathy traits of ASMR responders.

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Peer-reviewed research publications about Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityHow many peer-reviewed research publications about ASMR currently exist?  The answer is three.

I’ve created this post as a quick resource for anyone looking to learn more about these publications.

Below are the details for each publication, along with links to each publication, summaries of the data, interviews with the authors, and podcast episodes about each publication.

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Science of ASMR: The third peer-reviewed research publication (podcast episode #12)

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian ResponseIn this podcast episode, I will be summarizing the third peer-reviewed research publication about ASMR and sharing an interview with the authors.

The paper is titled, ““An Examination of Personality Traits Associated with Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)”)” and was published in the journal, Frontiers in Psychology on February 23, 2017. The authors are Beverley Fredborg, Jim Clark, and Stephen Smith from the University of Winnipeg in Manitoba, Canada.

This podcast episode will cover the following topics:

  • What are the personality traits associated with ASMR-sensitive individuals?
  • What are the most intense ASMR triggers?
  • How they recruited participants and determined ASMR sensitivity.
  • The focus of their next ASMR research publication.
  • and more.

Subscribe to the ASMR University Podcast to hear all of the past and future episodes or listen to this one episode right here:

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Interview with Bev Fredborg, author of the recent research publication about ASMR and personality traits.

ASMR Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response UniversityResearchers at the University of Winnipeg in Canada have recently published their second peer-reviewed research publication about ASMR.

The paper is titled, “An Examination of Personality Traits Associated with Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR)” and was published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology on February 23, 2017.

The publication was authored by Beverley Fredborg, an adjunct lab member in the Embodied Emotion Laboratory, Dr. Jim Clark, the Chair of the Department of Psychology, and Dr. Stephen Smith, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology.

I recently wrote a short article which summarized some of the findings of this new publication.

This article now brings you an explanation of their study in the words of the lead author, Beverley “Bev” Fredborg, who is also currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada.

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