If you're the type of person that enjoys indulging in the occasional frozen treat -- then it's likely you've experienced "brain freeze" -- that sharp pain in your temples that comes on instantaneously when something cold hits the inside of your mouth. And I know we've said a little sugar can be good for warding off some types of headaches -- if that sugar is in the form of a triple gelato scoop - beware! For decades, researchers were clueless about why brain freeze occurs. Recently, several studies have shown that people who get migraines are also more likely to get brain freeze.
Because it can be hard to study the standard kind of headache in a laboratory environment, scientists are now looking at using brain freeze as a model. Brain freeze can be a useful model because while a headache may come on unpredictably, brain freeze can be induced on the spot. That means you can control when it comes on and off. In a recent study, 13 volunteers were asked to sip ice water through a straw until it brought on brain freeze. When the subject signaled the researcher that the brain freeze was brought on, the scientists used imaging techniques to measure the patterns of blood flow in the vessels surrounding their brains. What the study aimed to map is whether the same patterns of blood flow that cause the pain in brain freeze cause the pain in migraines. But further studies are needed to really make the link.
Are you a migraine sufferer that regularly experiences brain freeze? If so, tell us about it.