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OUCH: 6 Facts on the Science of Brain Freeze

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It’s happened to all of us. We gobble down a bowl of ice cream or slurp a frozen beverage a little too enthusiastically…and suddenly, brain freeze! Believe it or not, the crippling, cold-inducing headache that hits your cranium like a sack of frozen bricks has a scientific purpose, as cruel and unwarranted as it might feel at the time.

Let’s take a closer look at the reasons behind brain freeze…

1. What is Brain Freeze?

Brain freeze has an official scientific title: Spehenopalatine Ganglioneuralgia (say that twice without hurting your brain). It’s called this because it’s induced by nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion (a nasal ganglion found in the branch of the facial nerve). Many people also non-affectionally refer to it as “ice cream headache”.

Regardless of the title you choose, brain freeze is never a pleasant sensation. The sudden onslaught of pain in the brain often leaves us defenceless and unable to enjoy further slurps, licks, or bites of our favorite frozen treat.

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