I have written before about the neurology of synaesthesia, where a person’s senses blend, allowing them to see colours of music, or taste words as distinct flavours. Now it seems scientists are attempting to link it to another peculiarity of our brains. This time, they are giving it the moniker of ASMR. In common terms, it is a sort of tingling in the brain. It is the state achieved when we reach a trance-like calm; a feeling of euphoric tranquillity, and it is more common than originally thought.
There are a growing number of YouTube videos devoted to inducing this state, ranging from a woman slowly folding bath towels while whispering to herself, to watching painters go about their craft. Pretty much any repetitive task can trigger this state of bliss in some people, but give it a posh name of ‘autonomic sensory meridian response,’ or ASMR, and scientists have a new toy with which to play.
When you think about it, this is neither new, nor extraordinary. Give a child a calming activity, such as reading or petting a cat prior to bedtime, and they will drift into a sleepy state without kicking off at lights out. I often used a similar strategy with a classroom full of restless teenagers. After a lunchtime of manic chatter and flying around the breezy playgrounds, I had to employ cunning tactics to focus their minds for the afternoon lessons. This I achieved daily, using videos of potters, carpentry or other similar occupations. While the teens watched the creation of something dynamic and skilled, I would take a visual register. Within five minutes, every single student was relaxed, calm and ready to take on board further lessons. Similarly, if a group of students followed a boisterous Physical Education class, or drama studies, for example, ten minutes of Vivaldi would do the trick.
These minor adjustments to young and impressionable people, look to be fairly addictive, with close to two million views of the folding towel lady, and more than one hundred and fifty thousand ASMR Subreddit subscribers. Craig Richard, of Shenandoah University in Virginia, has even set up a dedicated ASMR website. The bandwagon scientists are already burning through funding, setting up surveys and questionnaires, matching personality types to the propensity to feel tranquil, all of which reveal little to no useful information at all.
Does this state really require expert analysis? Isn’t it just a natural progression from when our mothers stroked our foreheads in the cradle? Don’t we all crave a little nurturing, even if it is achieved via a video of towel folding? I had better find some more clips of chocolate making factories, I can feel my brain tingles wearing off. Stay euphoric readers…
Sam Nash is the author of the thriller series, The Aurora Conspiracies, available from Amazon at http://mybook.to/AuroraMandate You can find her at https://www.samnash.org or on Twitter @samnashauthor or Facebook.com/samnash.author. Alternatively, you can download her free prequel novella series from: Kindle: mybook.to/T-A-J-P01 ePub: books2read.com/u/4jwjJo