According to ASMR-Research.org:
Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a physical sensation characterized by a pleasurable tingling that typically begins in the head and scalp, and often moves down the spine and through the limbs.
Most ASMR episodes begin by an external or internal trigger, and are so divided for classification.Type A episodes are elicited by the experiencer using no external stimuli, and are typically achieved by specific thought patterns unique to the individual. Type B episodes are triggered involuntarily by an external trigger, via one or more senses, and may also involve specific thought patterns associated with the triggering event. Both types of triggers vary between individuals, but many are common to a large portion of ASMR enjoyers.
Common external triggers:
- Exposure to slow, accented, or unique speech patterns
- Experiencing a high empathetic or sympathetic reaction to an event
- Enjoying a piece of art or music
- Watching another person complete a task, often in a diligent, attentive manner – examples would be filling out a form, writing a check, going through a purse or bag, inspecting an item closely, etc.
- Close, personal attention from another person
- Haircuts, or other touch from another on head or back
- Crisp, clear sounds
- Listen to the radio or podcasts when these people are talking.
- Watch certain TV programs, or YouTube videos, like instructional ones, infomercials, adverts, historical or factual programs.
- People talking in a foreign or indigenous language.
- Get tickled lightly, especially on the back or shoulders.
- When someone strokes or plays with your hair softly.
- Having your hair washed and cut at a salon.
- When you listen to certain soft or distant, and usually repetitive, sounds like a bouncing tennis ball, trickling water, or construction noises like tapping hammers.
- Listen to certain types of music – perhaps ambient or industrial, for instance.
- Watching someone draw a picture, paint, or build something, perhaps like a sculpture or even a card tower.
- Watch someone write.
- Someone drawing on your body.
- People reading a newspaper over your shoulder.
- People working at computers; perhaps the sound of keys being tapped or the click of a mouse.
- Listening to someone chew gum.
- Someone using sign language.
- People whispering.
- Listening to elderly people talk.
- Listening to strangers talk, rather than family or friends and more well-known individuals in one’s life.
- From reading various pieces of reading material.
- Someone showing you how to do something.
Symptoms or side effects that might occur after or during the sensation which might be caused by one or several of the above triggers, and experienced by only some of the ASMR population, include:
- A headache (usually just a slight one however).
- Slight nausea.
- Tiredness – probably due to the relaxing effects of the event. Some claim however that it gives them a limited amount of focus while working on a project. I often make myself experience it while writing about ASMR, even while writing this article now, by using trigger videos or audio samples, listening to the radio, etc.
- Others say that at the conclusion of an event that their eyes water – probably because it ended!
- Numbness in the fingers, reported by some.
- See visions and funny symbols, especially when eyes are closed.
- Sadness or irritability when the event ends, with people claiming they “don’t want it to end”.
One can also further divide ASMR in to two groups:
- Type A: consciously controlled trigger of an ASMR event.
- Type B: uncontrolled or externally triggered ASMR event.
Type A would refer to an activity such as meditation, where the person is alone, with nobody else around and no distractions, either. They can make the sensation occur at will, just using the mind. They don’t rely on external stimuli.
Type B refers to watching TV, listening to the radio, or someone speak, or being physically touched. This is what is meant by external factors that trigger ASMR.
Some claim that Type B is the more common one as it is perhaps easier to trigger, and may result in longer, more sustained events. Another thing that I’ve noticed is that external triggers are much more likely to enhance, or act as a boost to an all ready existing event. Even climate effects such as the cold could add to the overall experience.
With these Type B triggers, sometimes repetition of the trigger or playing a video our sound clip on a loop can increase the sensation drastically. It’s not unusual however to become immune or used to a trigger after a while. It’s like you build up a tolerance level or become bored with that sample, and this is when people start to seek out more and more things that will create the sensation, often searching for the ultimate in triggers.
It seems that some people do not experience ASMR.
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This is called misophonia. You can find more info about that here.
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Disclaimer: Most or all of the information about the effects of ASMR is quoted directly from the website(s) listed below in the Resources section. The content quoted belongs to the original creator, and them alone.
“ASMR: What is This Tingling Sensation in my Head?.” HubPages. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Apr 2012. <http://anti-valentine.hubpages.com/hub/ASMR>.
“ASMR Research & Support.” . ASMR Research Organization, n.d. Web. 21 Apr 2012. <http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.asmr-research.org/>.