If you need a few moments to unwind, this video of a sharp knife “unchopping” a tomato is surprisingly calming.
It’s made by Wryfield Lab and it’s a new style of film emerging that taps into a phenomenon called self-reliant sensory meridian reaction (ASMR).
If while watching you find yourself feeling a tingling, static-like sensation on your skin, likely starting at the scalp and moving down the back of your neck to the spine and possibly the arms and legs if it’s really strong, that’s ASMR’s low-grade euphoria at work. Those who feel it report it being accompanied by feelings of relaxation and well-being.
ASMR was coined in 2010 by Jennifer Allen, a cybersecurity professional in New York. And she created a Facebook group called the ASMR Group, which now has over 8,300 members.
Not very much is known about ASMR yet, and not everyone can experience it. Some researchers dismiss it as an anomalous sensory experience, but others are starting to take it more seriously and are investigating how it might be used to offer temporary relief for depression, stress, and chronic pain.
According to research conducted in the U.K. in March 2015, those who report experiencing ASMR have been triggered by the following sorts of acoustic and visual experiences.
- Listening to a soft or whispering voice
- Listening to quiet, crisp, repetitive sounds like turning book pages or cutting tomatoes
- Watching somebody carefully execute a mundane task like folding towels
- Receiving tender personal attention
Experiences unlikely to trigger ASMR included the sound of a vacuum or airplane, and laughing or smiling.
“While ASMR appears to be a genuine, relatively prevalent perceptual experience, the exact nature of the phenomenon is still unknown,” concludes the research paper titled “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR): a flow-like mental state.”
Although science is just catching on to the phenomenon, a social community has been emerging focused on creating media, particularly video, designed to produce ASMR. Wryfield Lab is one of them and there’s an ASMR Reddit community with over 110,000 subscribers.