Whisper videos are created to help people relax and experience Autonomous Sensory Meriden Response -- better known as ASMR. While ASMR is not scientifically proven, people from across the globe have created an online community of viewers and video artists in order to help each other feel brain tingles.
Here are five questions to help you understand ASMR and ASMR videos:
What is ASMR?
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meriden Response. According to ASMR-Research.org, the term is a name for a pleasurable tingling sensation that usually starts in the head and scalp, and can move down the spine and through the limbs.
"[The research group] gave it [the senation] a name; it's not scientifically proven, but they decided to give it a name and they made it short by calling it ASMR," ASMR artist Ilse said. "ASMR is basically a term for a feeling a lot of people get when they listen to different kinds of sounds."
The research group categorizes ASMR sensations in two types. Type A sensations have no external stimuli and are triggered by different thought patterns. Type B sensations have external stimuli which are triggered by one or more senses.
"A huge variety of different things, whisper voices, soft-spoken voices. A lot of people can relate to [ASMR] for example with relaxing meditation CDs, like those voices that are really calming," Ilse said about ASMR triggered by sounds. "So it's a very big, big scale basically of different triggers, because everybody is different and they prefer different things."
MORE: NeuroLogica Blog post on ASMR
How did ASMR videos get started?
An increased number of ASMR videos began to be produced in mid-2011 to 2012 as Internet searches for the term ASMR increased and online communities/forums grew. ASMR artist Andrew said people, like him, would search for videos of whispering, or other auditory triggers like tapping, because they had experienced the tingling sensation since they were children and wanted to experience it again.
In response to the demand for auditory trigger videos, people created, produced and posted videos on YouTube. More and more videos were posted to YouTube as viewers asked artists to create more videos and as viewers became ASMR artists themselves.
Andrew said he was encouraged to keep creating videos because they helped people and from the positive feedback.
I was really surprised when I first started how many of the comments were, just really sincere and positive," Andrew said. 'To this day, it remains that the majority of [comments] are like that.
Who uses ASMR videos?
ASMR video viewers can be divided into two categories: people who have experienced ASMR since they were children and people who experienced ASMR later in life.
"The people who associate it with when they were a kid, they get triggered by something they remember from when they were a kid. For example, when their mom would read them a story or a grandma who would touch their hand or a little kid that would whisper in their ear," ASMR artist Ilse said.
People tend to search for triggers in order to experience the sensation again. The ASMR videos help build a community around an artist's work or a specific video where members share their ASMR experience with each other.
Who makes ASMR videos?
ASMR content creators, or ASMR artists, are members of the ASMR community. Some artists started out as avid video watchers and decided to try creating an ASMR video. Others just created a video and after receiving a good response from the ASMR community on their videos, they continued to create and post ASMR videos.
Artists said their main motivation to keep creating videos is because they help people.
"I noticed a lot of people were about to deal with their insomnia issues and things like that through these videos," ASMR Andrew said. "So I thought maybe I can try making my own videos and seeing if I can help people in that way, too."
How do ASMR videos help people?
ASMR video viewers say the videos help them relax. The pleasure of the tingling sensation helps people let go of their anxiety, depression, or insomnia, and allows them to relax and fall asleep.
ASMR artist Ally said she gets feedback from a lot of her viewers saying how her ASMR videos helped them.
"One of the most moving comments I ever received was from a man who had just come home from a tour in Afghanistan and he was struggling with some PTSD," Ally explained. "He told me that he couldn't get to sleep at night anymore without watching my videos. They were putting him to sleep and putting him in such a relaxed state that he could quiet his mind enough to fine some peace and some rest."
MORE: Whisper videos and brain tingles
Sources for this article include: ASMR Research and Support Group and ASMR artists Ilse, Ally and Andrew