The Stream

Is there more to ASMR than brain tingles?

We explore the whispering videos drawing huge views on YouTube.

On Wednesday, October 17 at 19:30 GMT: 

Do you find the sound of whispers soothing? Does listening to someone crinkle wrapping paper lull you like a lullaby? What about watching someone slowly pour fizzy liquids in front of a microphone? Is that noise intoxicating?  If so, you’re probably one of the millions of people poring through ASMR videos on YouTube.

Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is the term used to describe the “brain tingles”, or sensation, people get when they watch stimulating videos that involve personal attention. A 2015 study conducted by researchers at Swansea University found that 85 percent of ASMR consumers use it to fall asleep. It’s also big business for practitioners of the phenomenon, with some creators earning thousands of dollars a month.

Some critics of the practice, though, say the content borders on erotica. In fact, state censors in China have banned the videos because of it. YouTube has even prevented ASMR channels they deem to be too sexual from monetizing. However,  ASMR enthusiasts insist the videos are simply for relaxation purposes and similar to ambient noise machines.

On this episode of The Stream we dive into the ASMR world to uncover whether it’s the real deal or just a bunch of hocus pocus. Join the conversation. 


On this episode of The Stream, we speak with:


Emma Smith, @WhispersRedASMR
ASMR Artist

Melinda Lauw, @whisperlodge
Co-creator of Whisperlodge

Nikki Glasser, @nikkiglaser


Dr. Craig Richard
Author of Brain Tingles


Read more: 
ASMR, explained: why millions of people are watching YouTube videos of someone whispering – Vox 
How researchers are beginning to gently probe the science behind ASMR – Smithsonian Magazine 

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.