What is ASMR

What is ASMR??

In my last article, I wrote about ASMR or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. In case you are uninitiated in this revolutionary concept which is now taking the human-centered tech world by storm, I urge you to go check out my article on this website. Here’s the link to it:

This article brings forth a few interesting facts about ASMR. So hop on and enjoy the ride!

The term ASMR wasn’t there before 2009

Jennifer Allen of Plattsburg, NY, USA is accredited for coining the term ASMR. She isn’t exactly a neuroscientist in case you are wondering. She is, in fact, a cyber-security expert who began scouring the internet for terms to describe the weirdly pleasurable feeling she was getting from watching certain videos and hearing certain sounds. It wasn’t orgasm and most certainly asexual, but pleasurable nonetheless. This was back in the early 2000s. Her searches on the internet did not turn up anything until 2009 when she came across a discussion thread on steadyhealth.org titled “Weird Sensation Feels Good”. People there were discussing things like “silvery sparkles” and euphoric “brain-gasms”. She soon fomented the whole discussion and in 2010 coined the now fabled term ASMR! In 2010 she founded the first ASMR Facebook Group and then the Facebook ASMR Page in 2011. This page now has major Hollywood celebrities contributing ASMR videos! Finally, in 2011 Jennifer Allen got Wikipedia to start taking ASMR seriously and dedicate an entire page to it. Now, the neuroscientists are buzzing about this term that was coined by a curious woman with a vigil to make something un-describable describable!

What sounds and images fall under the category of ASMR?

The crinkling of candy wrappers, whispering voices, Bob Ross delivering one of his Joy of Painting sessions on YouTube (Don’t be surprised! Bob’s voice is a major ASMR trigger), meat loafs sizzling on a grill, women doing light makeup, a man getting a haircut in a barbershop, a distant shower with thunder – these are the most popular ASMR triggers. Back in 2007 when the Coen Brothers made their iconic Academic Award-winning movie No Country for Old Men, they included an ASMR shot of a crinkling peanut wrapper. But, since the term did not exist back then, they had no idea that they had included something that was poised to become as huge a rage as the movie itself. Every day more and more contributors come up with fresh content on YouTube on ASMR and this leads us to our next fun fact.

How many ASMR YouTube videos are out there?

Back in 2009 when a certain YouTube video was posted under the title “Whisper 1 – Hello!”, little did the creator know that she was at the cusp of a revolution. This YouTuber did not have luck on her side though. The video got lost in the jungle so to speak because of its weak and unsearchable title and the YouTube search engine’s algorithm made matters worse by relegating it to the absolute bottom. But the guys at YouTube would soon be rocked by a flood!  There are currently more than 5 million ASMR videos on YouTube and that number is sprinting towards the 6 million mark as I speak. Every day around 500 new ASMR videos are added to YouTube and the top ASMR YouTubers make more than a hundred thousand dollars annually. That’s something, ain’t it!

Dont Forget to Subscribe to the Channel as there will be more videos on the topic soon.

What is the most searched Google topic on ASMR?

You will be surprised to know this. The most Googled topic on ASMR is “What is ASMR”. But this isn’t odd considering that most people are part of this silent revolution without even knowing it. So, there is obvious curiosity about the whole thing and as the term keeps popping up outside of YouTube every now and then, people have started growing curious.

Is ASMR pseudo-science?

I was wondering about the same thing until I stumbled upon some research conducted by two reputed institutions. In a research conducted at Anglia Ruskin University, UK, in 2018, it was observed that the group of people exposed to ASMR content experienced reduced heart rate and a tiny increase in sweating compared to the group that wasn’t exposed to such content. Add to this the associated euphoric feeling experienced by the ASMR viewer group and you know there is something at work in the human brain. Here’s the link to the research paper.

Another research conducted at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA, made use of MRI to map the brains of ASMR content watchers. They found observable changes in the neural pathways of the medial prefrontal cortex, an advanced area of the brain associated with self-awareness, social information processing, and grooming. Areas of the brain associated with getting rewards, pleasant surprises and emotional arousal were also triggered substantially. This led the scientists to hypothesize that ASMR content triggered social engagement pleasures. Here’s the link to this research.

We still know very little about how ASMR actually works; that it is felt is an absolute truth. While scientists keep working at this strange response to stimuli of the human brain, the least we can do is sit back and let the ASMR contents soothe us or, better still, put us to sleep.

Keep following my articles for more content on ASMR. I have only scratched the surface and the iceberg sits still in the middle of the ocean!

About the author

Hirak D

Hirak D is a published author and Communication Coach from Durgapur, West Bengal, India. He is also a guest blogger at several media and publication houses with published articles on a wide variety of topics. As part of his profession, he teaches English to school and college students in his hometown. His particular areas of interest are human behavioral studies and the human oriented technology interface

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