Researchers recently shared study results regarding “brain freeze” or “ice cream headache” pain at the Experimental Biology annual meeting in San Diego.
While being observed by researchers, 17 brave volunteers sipped icy water though straws, aiming towards the top of their mouths… a trick that triggers brain freeze quickly. They were then instructed to tell the scientists when they felt the brain pain, and again when the pain subsided. The scientists observed that the anterior cerebral artery widened just before the subjects felt the head pain, and it contracted just as the pain faded away. The artery was likely bringing extra blood to the brain to keep it warm… but the increasing pressure from the extra fluid inside the skull may have been the likely reason for the passing pain. These findings suggest that similar blood-induced pressure may be partly responsible for migraine and traumatic brain injury headaches. The hope is that new treatments to prevent quick dilation of blood vessels can be created for headache sufferers. At the very least, we now have some insight as to why our head hurts when we eat an ice-cream cone….. Scientific American July 2012