Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Neuroscientists explain how the sensation of brain freeze works

Date:
May 22, 2013
Source:
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
Brain freeze is practically a rite of summer. It happens when you eat ice cream or gulp something ice cold too quickly. The scientific term is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, but that's a mouthful. Brain freeze is your body's way of putting on the brakes, telling you to slow down and take it easy.

Brain freeze is practically a rite of summer. It happens when you eat ice cream or gulp something ice cold too quickly. The scientific term is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, but that's a mouthful. Brain freeze is your body's way of putting on the brakes, telling you to slow down and take it easy. Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center neuroscientist Dwayne Godwin, Ph.D., explains how it works.

"Brain freeze is really a type of headache that is rapid in onset, but rapidly resolved as well," he said. "Our mouths are highly vascularized, including the tongue -- that's why we take our temperatures there. But drinking a cold beverage fast doesn't give the mouth time to absorb the cold very well."

Here's how it happens: When you slurp a really cold drink or eat ice cream too fast you are rapidly changing the temperature in the back of the throat at the juncture of the internal carotoid artery, which feeds blood to the brain, and the anterior cerebral artery, which is where brain tissue starts.

"One thing the brain doesn't like is for things to change, and brain freeze is a mechanism to prevent you from doing that," Godwin said.

The brain can't actually feel pain despite its billions of neurons, Godwin said, but the pain associated with brain freeze is sensed by receptors in the outer covering of the brain called the meninges, where the two arteries meet. When the cold hits, it causes a dilation and contraction of these arteries and that's the sensation that the brain is interpreting as pain.

Analyzing brain freeze may seem like silly science to some, but "it's helpful in understanding other types of headaches," Godwin said.

"We can't easily give people migraines or a cluster headache, but we can easily induce brain freeze without any long-term problems," he said. "We can learn something about headache mechanisms and extend that to our understanding to develop better treatments for patients."

Is there a cure for brain freeze? Yes -- stop drinking the icy cold beverage. You can also jam your tongue up to the roof of your mouth because it's warm or drink something tepid to normalize the temperature in your mouth.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "Neuroscientists explain how the sensation of brain freeze works." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130522095335.htm>.
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. (2013, May 22). Neuroscientists explain how the sensation of brain freeze works. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130522095335.htm
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "Neuroscientists explain how the sensation of brain freeze works." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130522095335.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Dieting At A Young Age Might Lead To Harmful Health Habits

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Researchers say women who diet at a young age are at greater risk of developing harmful health habits, including eating disorders and alcohol abuse. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

It's Not Just Facebook: OKCupid Experiments With Users Too

Newsy (July 29, 2014) If you've been looking for love online, there's a chance somebody has been looking at how you're looking. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

How Your Face Can Leave A Good Or Bad First Impression

Newsy (July 29, 2014) Researchers have found certain facial features can make us seem more attractive or trustworthy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins