Scientists Finally Figure Out 'Brain Freeze'
Which could spell good news for migraine sufferers
By Matt Cantor, Newser User
Posted Apr 23, 2012 12:34 PM CDT
Updated Apr 28, 2012 11:33 AM CDT
Scientists have made a brain-freeze breakthrough.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Why must a shooting pain so often accompany a delicious bite of ice cream? In their work to learn more about migraines, scientists may have figured it out, LiveScience reports. Using the previously established findings that migraine-sufferers have the double whammy of more frequent brain freeze, the researchers decided to try to learn about the trickier-to-study former by observing the latter. To do so, they had subjects drink cold water through a straw perched against the roofs of their mouths.

When subjects signaled the onset of pain, the researchers observed that the blood flow through a vessel behind the eyes, known as the anterior cerebral artery, increased. The pain disappeared when the artery constricted. The "freeze" may stem from the boosted pressure in the brain as blood rushes in, and could be a self-defense mechanism, the researchers say. The brain is "fairly sensitive to temperature," explains one, so the process of widening the vessels "might be moving warm blood inside tissue to make sure the brain stays warm." Drugs to help keep such vessels constricted could help fight migraines in the future.

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Showing 3 of 13 comments
Apr 28, 2012 9:13 PM CDT
I found out sometime ago that when I get a brainfreeze, putting the tip of my tongue onto the soft palate (area behind the hard part of the roof of my mouth) and leaving it there for a minute or two helps the pain to go away.
Apr 28, 2012 1:20 PM CDT
But have they figured out why taking a second bite makes the brain freeze go away?
Apr 23, 2012 5:33 PM CDT
As a lifetime Slurpee devotee, I appreciate this research.