Can our brains really have orgasms?

According to the first published scientific paper on the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) by Barratt and Davis, we absolutely can. Such an orgasm is a neurological experience characterized by a pleasant tingling sensation that spreads from the head to the rest of the body.

Some people have reported feelings of relaxation and euphoria when ASMR is triggered by specific thoughts, audio, and visual stimuli. Although ASMR triggers vary from person to person, the most common include whispering and soft voices, scratching, typing, gentle touches, hair play, pages turning, and ambient sounds.

Brain Orgasm

GIF courtesy of

ASMR emerged from a forum thread in 2007 between users discussing similar symptoms. The topic of ASMR continued to gain traction over the internet and eventually developed huge followings on various YouTube channels and the ASMR subreddit. Despite the astounding amount of interest, the scientific community as a whole has yet to uncover the mechanisms behind ASMR. Because people experience the effects of ASMR so differently, some people don’t feel anything at all.

Who’s ever heard of ASMR anyway?

People have always experienced ASMR, even if they had no words to aptly describe it. Of course a lot of people can describe it, including beloved Saturday Night Live actress Molly Shannon. She described her ASMR experience to Conan O’Brien—when the TSA went through her luggage methodically—as a “head orgasm.”

One of T-Swift’s girl squad besties, Cara Delevingne, who plays Enchantress in Suicide Squad has also created ASMR content that describes how she got into character for the movie.

Brain Orgasm

Photo courtesy of W Magazine on YouTube

However, the most internet-famous ASMRtists are on YouTube with up to 720,000 subscribers. GentleWhispering, Heather Feather and MassageASMR are just a few of many ASMR content producers.

ASMR and Food

Brain Orgasm

Photo courtesy of Little Watermelon ASMR on YouTube

So how is the Auto Sensory Meridian Response related to food you might ask? Well, there are YouTube channels dedicated to triggering ASMR through eating and cooking sounds. These videos are often quite long but are the modern equivalent to soundscapes like the soothing sensation created by rainfall. You finally have an excuse a reason to listen to potato chip munching for hours on end now.

Brain Orgasm

Photo courtesy of Solfrid asmr on YouTube

Therapeutic Qualities of ASMR

Dr. Craig Richard, professor of biopharmaceutical sciences at Shenandoah University believes that ASMR triggers are calming because the brain interprets them as safe and non-threatening. Barrat and Davis’ report shows that 98% of their respondents watch ASMR videos to relax, 82% watch them to help them sleep, and 70% watch them to help deal with stress. This is hopeful evidence Auto Sensory Meridian Response’s potential clinical use in helping people with insomnia, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.

With the myriad ASMR content available on the internet, it’s relatively easy to find your trigger and possibly alleviate stress and improve the quality of your sleep.