I have long been interested in how it feels to think. How it physically feels to think. Some conversations feel like they set my whole head buzzing, in an exploratory, freethinking kind of way. I feel like my consciousness extends a few inches around my head, especially around the back of my head. Sometimes, one of those conversations turns to a topic closer to home, reminding me of things I have to do, or of challenges I’m very consciously dealing with. The pleasant buzz disappears and instead I feel like my frontal lobe takes charge. Things come into clearer focus, in a visual and auditory way. My head feels different. That switch is always unpleasant, like being awoken from a nice doze. What I find fascinating is how I feel it, in a very real way, as a switch in the location of my thinking.

My husband used to be a careworker for people with brain injuries so he knows a bit about the brain. He tells me that because there are no nerve endings inside the brain, the phenomena I am describing is not quite explained (yet?).

A piece in the independent caught my eye yesterday, with the word “braingasm” in the title. It is about people seeking out a relaxing buzz from watching videos of often mundane things. It introduced me to the concept of ASMR: auto sensory meridian response. At last, a name for that sort of tingly-headedness! The ASMR website describes this sensation as caused by external factors like hair stroking, and internal factors like a response to a soothing voice.

I’ve asked members of my family over the last 24 hours whether they recognise this ASMR phenomena. With mixed responses. So now I’m even more curious!

Do you get a fuzzy feeling when someone strokes your hair?

Do some people make you feel nicely tingly in a reassuring non-thinking way?

Do you “feel” it when you think in certain ways?

Would love for some comments here 🙂


5 thoughts on “Tingly-headedness

  1. When I’m deep in thought either reading/making notes when trying to understand something or see/define an idea more clearly, I get the ‘just woken up’ fuzzy feeling when disturbed. Also get this when interrupted from one of those conversations when you are really coming up with ideas and making connections. I don’t so much notice the buzzy feeling during the engrossing activity so much as realising it was nice and now it’s stopped, like being woken up, if that makes sense?

    On the touching of the head, up to being around 7, I had very long hair. At the end of every day in school, we’d have the last half hour being told a story. All the other girls wanted to brush and play with my hair during storytime, and they took it in turns. Don’t think I have ever felt so relaxed yet focussed as when someone was brushing my hair as I was being read a story! Sadly, this ended when we moved up in the school and were too grownup to be told stories 😀 Wonder if the hairdresser would let me listen to a talking book dvd..?

  2. I have another bit of theory about the tingly-headedness too. When I go fuzzy, my mouth relaxes, my tongue relaxes. Years ago I went to an anxiety self-help group and we were taught how to relax our faces because that can relax the mind in a very specific way.
    Try this:
    Start thinking about something complicated. Hold you tongue with your fingers to stop it twitching. Try to carry on thinking about something complicated.
    It’s harder isn’t it?
    The theory is that the tongue forming silent words is connected to the brain forming this words. Think of how people’s mouths move in their sleep even though they are not speaking out loud their mouths are forming words.
    If you restrain the tongue, it’s harder to think verbally.
    So when you go tingly headed and your tongue relaxes, it reduces your ability to think clearly verbally.
    Now, something terribly politically incorrect that I have noticed is that the classic “dumb” look is to put your tongue low and fat in your mouth, touching the base of your mouth. Sure enough, there is a certain look of some people who are mentally (insert appropriate word here – i’ll try “impaired”), where their tongue is low in their mouth.
    Could these things be connected? Presumably someone with a very relaxed tongue is unlikely to be thinking complicated thoughts. I have no idea is that is a) politically incorrect b) causal or just correlated c) total rubbish.
    But it is something I have wondered.

  3. I get the sense of my thoughts being ‘active’ in different parts of my head, or even outside of my head. If I am think about big, deep, abstract questions, it tends to be out the back of my head (right side), and if I am thinking of precise technical detail, right frontal lobe. If I am thinking of real things, bigger picture, it feels like my left frontal lobe/out the front of my head is doing the thinking. I’m not sure the back left gets a work out!

    However, nobody I have ever asked has been aware of similar experiences. I generally put it down to them not thinking, but that’s just me being mean 🙂

    If people put their hands near my head while I am thinking, I feel distracted. I don’t think it even needs contact, though I am sure there is a physical factor there somewhere. It is possible that some mental activity takes place in the electromagnetic fields caused by neural activity, in which case interfering with the field (like putting your hand near a TV antenna) might change the patterns, and maybe the ‘feel’ of the thought processes. But I can’t guess as to whether it would actually change the outcome of the thought process at all…

    As for holding your tongue… I am pretty certain my tongue doesn’t twitch when I am thinking about complicated things. I imagine holding my tongue would be distracting anyway though – and trying to *certainly* makes my tongue twitch!

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