SOME describe the feeling as a gentle tingling that starts from the head and runs quickly down the spine.
It’s triggered by any number of sights and sounds, from watching someone brush their hair, to hearing a lick or kissing sound in your ear.
But ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, is far more than just a feeling.
An online community of millions has sprung up on YouTube, with fans chasing their next ASMR rush turning to a small group of stars who post new videos every week.
In the clips, ASMR “artists” – often women wearing skimpy clothes – make sensual sounds into a microphone in a bid to give bated viewers that coveted tingle, described by some as a “brain orgasm”.
Some make videos full time, racking up hundreds of thousands of views per clip and even selling branded T-shirts for £30 a pop.
Sarah Toth, a 27-year-old ASMR artist based in the United States, has been making ASMR videos for four years.
Through YouTube and various other online ASMR ventures, she says she makes “six figures” – at least $100,000, or £77,000, per year.
This is more than enough to support her two children, as well as her husband, who doesn’t work.
While Sarah admits ASMR videos are out of the ordinary, she says sceptics are quickly sucked in.
“People walking into it find it’s weird, it’s definitely different from the norm,” she told The Sun.
“But people encourage their friends to try it and it often goes from there.”
The Pennsylvania resident regularly posts videos to her channel Karuna Satori, which boasts more than 630,000 subscribers.
Fans find the scene through various avenues, but Sarah got into it while watching online porn.
“I’m a very sexual person and used to watch a lot of porn. I would watch videos where at the beginning they’re massaging someone, and I started getting tingles.
“Eventually, I went to YouTube to watch massage videos, and I stumbled across a couple ASMR artists that I liked.
“I found out there was a name for the tingling feeling I was getting, and decided to post a couple videos myself. It all kicked off from there.”
That “tingling feeling” is still poorly understood by even the brightest brain experts, but a group British boffins are blazing a trail to its secrets.
Dr Giulia Poerio, a psychologist at the University of Sheffield, conducted one of the world’s first scientific studies on the effects of ASMR last year.
She told The Sun that while it doesn’t affect everyone, it can give viewers a relaxing, almost trance-like feeling.
“People who experience ASMR use videos to help with stress, insomnia, depression, anxiety and loneliness,” Dr Poerio said.
“ASMR can be likened to other complex emotional responses such as music and awe-induced chills in the sense that they are experiences that not everyone has.
“However, ASMR is a different feeling. The chills are often accompanied by ‘goosebumps’ – your hairs standing on end – which doesn’t happen in ASMR.
“We’ve also shown that ASMR is associated with feelings of relaxation and a decreased heart rate, whereas music-induced chills are associated with increased heart rate.”
For nearly a decade, ASMR communities were relegated to niche corners of the internet, but in recent months that’s begun to change.
Just this week, National Rail released a half-hour ASMR video featuring British creator WhispersRed speaking softly into two microphones to help calm down stressed commuters.
During this year’s Super Bowl broadcast, beer maker Michelob ULTRA paid thousands to show an ad in which American model Zoë Kravitz tapped her fingers on a beer bottle in a bid to give viewers a brain orgasm.
And as the craft goes mainstream, some artists are pushing the boundaries of their recordings to offer something a little different.
Sarah posts clips in which she kisses or licks the camera and microphone, often whispering sensually as she does it.
One of her most popular videos shows her licking and nibbling her husband’s ear for 12 straight minutes. It has been viewed 1.7million times.
Yet the YouTube star insists that ASMR is not sexual.
“ASMR is a tingly feeling, it’s not sexual at all. It’s more of a healing feeling than a sex thing.
“You can make anything sexual if you want to. Some people sexualise it, but they just want the money and views.”
Holly, a 28-year-old ASMR artist based in the UK, agrees.
She also posts unusual ear-focussed videos, but hers involve a microphone shaped like a pair of lugs.
The London resident makes a five figure salary recording herself chewing the gadgets, as well as making kissing and lip-smacking sounds.
“Mouth sound videos are popular because they give people tingles,” Holly, who runs the channel HollyASMR, told The Sun.
“The videos I do aren’t weird to me, simply because I don’t make them that way. It can be seen as sexual depending on how the creator is doing it.”
Whatever you think of their intentions, it seems ASMR artists truly believe that their videos simply help people unwind.
According to Sarah, her recordings give people a feeling of closeness that reminds them of their younger days.
“People are whispering, getting up close and personal. It’s intimate,” she said.
“A lot of it reverts back to childhood – things that made your relaxed as a kid can trigger that feeling now.
“We mean no harm, we want to help people and nothing more.”
Credit: Source link