Everyone who has munched on an ice cream cone or a snow ball knows "brain freeze," the rapid headache that comes from eating the treat too quickly.
Now, researchers believe the answer may lie in the body's attempt to regulate temperatures in the brain.
A new study used sophisticated imaging to study blood flow in patients who had ice cream headaches. In this case, the brain freeze was simulated using iced water.
The results, highlighted in Medical Daily, show that brain freeze is accompanied by a rapid expanding of an artery, which floods the brain with blood. Because the skull is rigid, researchers find the build up of pressure inside one's head actually may bring on the pain.
When the vessel constricts, patients report that the pain disappears. The researchers speculate that it's a form of self-defense for the brain.