Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) is a perceptual condition in which specific visual and auditory stimuli consistently trigger tingling sensations on the scalp and neck, sometimes spreading to the back and limbs. These triggering stimuli are often social, almost intimate, in nature (e.g., hearing whispering, or watching someone brush her hair), and often elicit a calm and positive emotional state. Surprisingly, despite its prevalence in the general population, no published study has examined the neural underpinnings of ASMR. In the current study, the default mode network (DMN) of 11 individuals with ASMR was contrasted to that of 11 matched controls. The results indicated that the DMN of individuals with ASMR showed significantly less functional connectivity than that of controls. The DMN of individuals with ASMR also demonstrated increased connectivity between regions in the occipital, frontal, and temporal cortices, suggesting that ASMR was associated with a blending of multiple resting-state networks. This atypical functional connectivity likely influences the unique sensory-emotional experiences associated with ASMR.
Keywords: Autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR); default mode network; functional connectivity; resting-state fMRI.