ASMR: How To Have A “Brain” Orgasm

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, or ASMR, is a term used for an experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine. Those who experience it often describe it as a tingling sensation in the back of the head or neck, or another part of the body, like their sexual organs, and even others an orgasm in response to some sort of sensory stimulus.

In other words, certain sounds or external stimuli to the brain (with no physical touch) can trigger real “orgasm-like” sensations throughout the body.

That stimulus could be anything from sounds the tonge makes or the sound of fingers turning a page or the sound of rubbing something. Over the past few years, a subculture has developed around YouTube videos, and their growing popularity has seen a spike in mainstream videos and millions of views on porn-related sites.

To date, only one research paper has been published on the phenomenon. In March of 2917, Emma Barratt, a graduate student at Swansea University, and Dr Nick Davis, then a lecturer at the same institution, published the results of a survey of some 500 ASMR enthusiasts. “ASMR is interesting to me as a psychologist because it’s a bit ‘weird’” says Davis, now at Manchester Metropolitan University. “The sensations people describe are quite hard to describe, and that’s odd because people are usually quite good at describing bodily sensation. So we wanted to know if everybody’s ASMR experience is the same, and of people tend to be triggered by the same sorts of things.”

Some ASMR enthusiasts use the videos therapeutically, to help with symptoms of insomnia, anxiety or depression. This is echoed in the findings from Barratt and Davis’s survey; their data showed that, for people who scored as having moderate to severe depression, 69% reported using ASMR videos to help ease their symptoms, and generally reported a greater improvement in mood than individuals who were not depressed. But these are self-report measures, and further work needs to be done to pinpoint to what extent there may be an actual therapeutic effect.

According to ASMR enthusiast Maria, ASMR manifests itself differently in different kinds of people. First, there are two types, Type A and Type B. Those with Type A are said to be able to cause ASMR through meditation, or just thinking about a trigger, while Type Bs need to actually experience the trigger. Maria also says that the tingles vary in strength.

“The strongest type of tingle…feels like sparkles or little fireworks going off,” she tells NPR. “The strongest one would give you the feeling of being exhausted, pleasantly tired, satisfied almost you want to say. Then there are much less strong tingles, and they feel just pleasant. Almost like sand is being poured down your spine. [Or] like when you get the funny elbow, when you hit it and it feels like it just goes off everywhere.”

Scientists have studied a different type of tingle—the chills that go up and down your spine, often caused by…