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An eye-tracking approach to Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR): The physiology and nature of tingles in relation to the pupil

PainSci » bibliography » Valtakari et al 2019
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One article on PainSci cites Valtakari 2019: Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response

original abstract Abstracts here may not perfectly match originals, for a variety of technical and practical reasons. Some abstacts are truncated for my purposes here, if they are particularly long-winded and unhelpful. I occasionally add clarifying notes. And I make some minor corrections.

Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) is a sensory phenomenon commonly characterized by pleasant tingling sensations arising from the back of the head and accompanied by feelings of relaxation and calmness. Although research has found ASMR to have a distinct physiological pattern with increased skin conductance levels and reduced heart rate, the specific tingles felt in ASMR have not received much investigation. The aim of the present study was to investigate the physiology and characteristics of ASMR further by examining whether experiencing ASMR is visible from the pupil of the eye. A total of 91 participants were recruited and assigned to three different groups based on their experience of ASMR (ASMR vs. non-ASMR vs. unsure). Participants were instructed to watch a control video and an ASMR video and to report any tingling sensations by pressing down a button on the keyboard. Pupil diameter was measured over the duration of both videos using a tower-mounted eye tracker. Data was analyzed on a general level, averaging pupil diameter over each video, as well as on a more specific level, comparing pupil diameter during reported episodes of tingling sensations to pupil diameter outside of those episodes. On the general level, results revealed no significant differences between the groups. On the specific level, however, the tingling sensations experienced in ASMR were found to cause statistically significant increases in pupil diameter, demonstrating that they have a physiological basis. The results of the study further reinforce the credibility of ASMR and suggest that the tingles felt in ASMR are at the very core of the experience itself.

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