Published:  2022-06-01

The effects of autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) on mood, attention, heart rate, skin conductance and EEG in healthy young adults

Authors:  H. J. Engelbregt, K. Brinkman, C. C. E. van Geest, M. Irrmischer, J. B. Deijen

Tags:  ASMR, Attention, EEG, Flanker task, Heart rate, Skin conductance

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Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a warm tingling sensation which is often accompanied by feelings of calmness and relaxation. The present study examined the effects of an ASMR video on mood, attention, heart rate (HR), electrodermal activity (EDA), electroencephalography (EEG) and the interaction with personality factors in 38 young adults (33 females and 5 males). Based on the ASMR-checklist responses of having tingles during watching the ASMR video 15 participants out of 38 were classified as ASMR-experiencers. Mood, attention and personality characteristics were measured by the Profile of Mood States, the Flanker task and HEXACO. EEG, HR and EDA were recorded during the ASMR and control videos. Depressive feelings decreased after watching the ASMR video in individuals experiencing tingles relative to those not experiencing tingles. Furthermore, in all participants, irrespective of experiencing tingles, a decrease of HR during watching the ASMR video was found. In ASMR-experiencers scoring low on Conscientiousness EDA tended to increase and HR tended-relatively to the group not experiencing tingles—to decrease during watching the ASMR video. EEG recordings indicated that watching the ASMR video was associated with decreased alpha power in ASMR-sensitive participants and decreased theta as well as increased beta power in the whole group of participants. The observed ASMR-induced decrease of alpha and theta power and increase of beta power and (only in low conscientious participants) EDA may reflect that, apart from relaxation, ASMR is related to arousal and focused attention.