Brain freeze basics

Date:29 September 2012 Tags:, , ,

Mystery: What causes the brief, flaring headaches that plague ice cream eaters?

Methodology: Researchers working with the US Department of Veterans Affairs, seeking ways to treat headaches caused by explosions, used ice water to trigger headaches in 13 volunteers. The researchers monitored the blood flow to the brain using transcranial Doppler imaging.

Explanation: Pain started when the anterior cerebral artery dilated and sent a rush of blood to the brain, presumably in an attempt to keep it warm. Soon after, the artery constricted once again, relieving the pain by allowing the pressure in the brain to drop. The researchers speculate that other, more serious types of head pain, such as migraines, could be triggered by a similar mechanism; if so, drugs that alter the brain’s blood fl ow could offer new treatments. – AH

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