More than 13 million videos on YouTube bring that warm, tingling, and pleasant sensation that science already identified as the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response.
ASMR is commonly referred to as "tingles," "brain tingles," or "brain orgasms." People who experienced ASMR swear by the calming and relaxing effects brought about by the experience. According to them, ASMR helps them sleep, and it also relieves stress.
YouTube videos that provide this unique kind of orgasmic experience feature the most mundane things —people whispering, a person tapping the table, slow rubbing of a microphone, or the sound of the hair being combed. The videos could even be as mundane as a tutorial on folding towels. In China, the most popular ASMR videos are of girls eating ice cubes.
While many people rave about ASMR, scientific research regarding the phenomenon has been limited.
Now, a team from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom investigated whether ASMR is as effective as what some people claim. The team examined whether tingles benefit the physical and mental health of those who experience it.
Experiencing the "brain orgasm" involves feeling the tingling sensation that starts at the crown of the head and spreads down the body. An overall calmness and relaxation of the body will then follow.
The study, published in the journal PLOS One on June 20, found that ASMR decreases the heart rate. The heart rates can drop at an average of 3.14 beats per minute while a person is watching an ASMR video.
"What's interesting is that the average reductions in heart rate experienced by our ASMR participants were comparable to other research findings on the physiological effects of stress-reduction techniques such as music and mindfulness," said Dr. Giulia Poerio, one of the researchers for the study.
ASMR videos also bring about positive emotions, excitement, a sense of social connection, and reduced stress and sadness.
The team recruited participants who watched two different ASMR videos and one video not related to ASMR for the study. Half of the participants have already experienced ASMR before participating in the study while the other half have not experienced it.
In another experiment, more than 1,000 participants were asked to answer an online survey after watching both ASMR and non-ASMR contents. The participants were asked how frequent the tingling sensation happened and what triggered it.
ASMR Videos Banned In China
Meanwhile, the Chinese government announced the removal of all ASMR related content from video streaming websites in the country. The country's anti-pornography office implemented the ban after they found that sexual videos were being released under the pretense of being ASMR videos. This was concerning for the officials as a majority of the ASMR viewers in the country are minors.
Asked about the ban being reinforced in China, Poerio said it could rob people of the health benefits they could get from the experience.