The physiological effects of whispering on your brain

written by Meena Azzollini

smiling women whispering

Credit:123RF

So far the physiological effects of awe and music-induced chills are well documented. But did you know that when you hear whispering it has the same kind of effect and causes your brain to tingle? So do slow hand movements and tapping. Even eating an apple quietly triggers a warm, tingling-type sensation starting from the crown of your head and spreading down to your body. This is known as Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR), sometimes referred to as “brain tingles” or “brain orgasms”. Such a sensation is often followed by calm and relaxation.

Those who experience ASMR had significantly greater reductions in their heart rates when watching ASMR videos compared to those who did not experience ASMR.

But the experience of ASMR has been unnoticed so far by the scientific circle. To understand if ASMR is a genuine feeling and what physiological effects take place in our body, researchers from the University of Sheffield conducted two studies — a laboratory experiment and a large-scale online test.

The researchers studied the physiological changes that occurred when participants watched two different ASMR videos and one control (non-ASMR) video in a laboratory setting. Half of the participants in the study were recruited because they identified as experiencing ASMR, with the other half were recruited as age and gender matched participants in the control group.

The findings showed that those who experience ASMR had significantly greater reductions in their heart rates when watching ASMR videos compared to those who did not experience ASMR. They also experienced greater positive emotions including relaxation and feelings of social connection. The average reduction in heart rate experienced by ASMR participants was similar to other research findings on the physiological effects of stress-reduction techniques such as music and mindfulness.

For the other experiment, more than 1000 participants filled out an online survey after watching a few ASMR and control (non-ASMR) video clips. They stated how frequently they experienced “tingles” and what their emotional response was to each video. Those who experienced ASMR were also asked about their common ASMR triggers and general experiences of ASMR. The study showed that participants who experienced ASMR had more frequent tingling, increased levels of excitement and calmness, and lowered levels of stress and sadness, compared to the non-ASMR participants.

It seems that people who experience ASMR gain additional benefits such as reduced heart rate and better mental health. So when someone is whispering and you feel the tingles, know that this whispering is doing your heart and health a world of good.

Source: PLOS ONE


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Meena Azzollini

Meena is passionate about holistic wellbeing, alternative healing, health and personal power and uses words to craft engaging feature articles to convey her knowledge and passion. She is a freelance writer and content creator from Adelaide, Australia, who draws inspiration from family, travel and her love for books and reading.

A yoga practitioner and a strong believer in positive thinking, Meena is also a mum to a very active young boy. In her spare time, she loves to read and whip up delicious meals. She also loves the smell of freshly made coffee and can’t ever resist a cheesecake. And she gets tickled pink by anything funny!