What Is ASMR and How Watching These Videos Can Help You Relax, According to a Study


ASMR videos are one of the most popular video content categories on YouTube these days. These videos have gained popularity among millions of this platform’s users, although they only show people intentionally eating in the most deliberate way possible.

Bright Side has investigated why ASMR videos have become so popular and why they are even considered a therapeutic tool.

The autonomous meridian sensory response

The so-called ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is a biological reaction that causes pleasure when you hear or see something that satisfies the brain. It’s a sensation that is not always noticeable by everyone, like a tingling in the neck, goosebumps, or a feeling of relaxation.

The new YouTube phenomenon

ASMR videos have become very popular on the famous platform. In these videos, a person stands in front of the camera with the sole purpose of eating a dish. However, it’s not just any kind of food, usually it’s a massive meal, with varied textures, which usually is being eaten with the sound amplified, so that the viewer can hear the sounds of biting, sipping, or chewing.

Some of these videos may be accompanied by a very quiet, almost whisper-like introductory explanation, with the same purpose of causing an ASMR sensation.

A sensory experience

Although to some people, it may seem strange to enjoy watching videos of other people eating, there is an explanation. A study published by the scientific journal Plos One, says that ASMR seems to share similarities with sensory experiences like “goosebumps,” which some people experience when they listen to certain types of music, and have deep aesthetic experiences, like those associated with the feeling of amazement.

The activity was specifically observed in the anterior medial prefrontal cortex, associated with the observation of highly moving and emotional works of art. This can represent a strong and complex emotional response, especially for people who tend to perceive a response to certain triggers, like gentle whispering, relaxing hand movements, smacking of the lips, or even nail tapping or scratching on hard surfaces.

The emotional complexity of the ASMR

ASMR videos trigger tingling sensations and promote emotional responses like excitement or relaxation. However, it’s important to note that these responses occurred only in people who identified with ASMR and only when they saw videos of ASMR. Therefore, the study suggests that ASMR is a complex emotional mixture that includes the activation and deactivation of positive effects.

ASMR as a relaxation therapy

People who watch ASMR videos often comment that these videos help them sleep, relax, and fight stress and anxiety. The results of the study revealed that these types of videos regulate emotion and may have a therapeutic benefit for those experiencing ASMR; for example, reducing heart rate and promoting feelings of positive affection and interpersonal connection.

Do you experience a sensory response when you watch a video of someone eating? Do you like watching ASMR videos? Share with us in the comments!

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