Still More Than a Feeling: Commentary on Cash et al., "Expectancy Effects in the Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response" and Recommendations for Measurement in Future ASMR Research

Multisens Res. 2019 Jan 1;32(6):521-531. doi: 10.1163/22134808-20191366.


Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response (ASMR) - the sensory phenomenon experienced by some people in response to visual and auditory stimuli such as whispering - has attracted substantial public attention but is not yet well understood or well established within the scientific community. Recent research published in PeerJ by Cash, Heisick and Papesh (2018) investigated whether ASMR could be a placebo effect (resulting from expectation) rather than a genuine experience triggered by ASMR-inducing stimuli. In this article, we provide a commentary on Cash et al.'s findings and argue that they provide evidence for (rather than against) the veracity of ASMR. We discuss issues regarding the measurement of ASMR and end by providing some recommendations on how to assess ASMR as both a state and a trait, in the hope of galvanising collaborative research efforts in the emerging field of ASMR.

Keywords: ASMR; Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response; commentary; expectation effect; placebo effect.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Attention / physiology*
  • Biomedical Research*
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sensation / physiology*
  • Sensory Deprivation