As a young child, Maria experienced a tingling-like sensation in her brain whenever she was touched a certain way, even when the school nurses routinely inspected children's scalps for head lice.
"It started in early childhood, when I used to play in kindergarten and the little girls would rub inside my forearm and tickle me," she said. "I actually felt the tingle travel down the scalp and it made me feel almost hypnotized."
Later, the same physical response was triggered by sounds, especially "quiet and lower frequency sounds."
In 2009, Maria discovered there were others like her online -- an underground community of so-called "whisperers" who watched soothing videos and had the same reaction.
The ASMR Research Institute, which was founded by volunteers, who analyze what little research exists on the phenomenon, told Time magazine they suspect the "feel-good" hormones dopamine or serotonin may be causing the pleasurable sensations.
Since Maria has been making ASMR videos, she has received hundreds of appreciative emails and comments.
"About half of my viewers watch for the tingles and actually get triggered," she said. "About 25 percent use them for sleep purposes – it puts them down very fast and is something comforting. A third category of people have either anxiety problems or they cannot find themselves in the world. They prefer to stay online and it becomes sort of a virtual friendship to them, engaging with the person in the video."
"I try to speak directly to them and have created this aura about my character," Maria said. "People just pour their hearts out to me and tell me how I've helped them."