We All Scream for Ice Cream – Science on the Web #58

– [Speaker] I eat Little Baby’s Ice Cream. It keeps me young. It keeps me light on my feet. I spring from activity to activity. I love my job. I love my life. – That is a wonderfully
creepy 2012 commercial for Philadelphia’s Little Baby’s Ice Cream by video artist Doug Garth Williams. – Hmm, it also provides
the perfect opportunity to ponder the mysteries
of the ice cream headache. – [Man] And for the longest, it really has been a bit of a mystery. – [Woman] You’ve probably experienced this mind-seizing sensation before. You help yourself to a delicious spoonful of your favorite frozen treat. It touches your palate and… – Yowza! Mere instantaneous headache. – It can even happen with cold water, but a lump of ice cream,
sorbet, or frozen yogurt is far more likely to stick to the roof of your mouth, driving home that brain-chilling freeze. – Now here’s the tidbit
that baited researchers in for a closer look at brain freeze. People who suffer from
migraines are far more likely to experience an ice cream headache. – Are the two connected? Well, in 2012, a team of
scientists set out for answers. – They studied brain freeze in the lab by monitoring blood flow
in several brain arteries via transcranial doppler all while the human test
subject sipped ice water through a special straw pressed
against their upper palate. – (laughing) Foolish college students. No free ice cream for you. – The researchers
discovered that brain freeze seems to be triggered by a
sudden increase in blood flow in the anterior cerebral artery and disappears when
this artery constricts. – Just a touch of chill and
the anterior cerebral artery dilates rapidly, flooding the brain with warm blood and pain. – Then the same vessel constricts
and the pain goes away. – So what’s going on here? Do our brains just hate ice cream? – According to study lead Jorge Serrador of Harvard Medical School, the brain is probably
just protecting itself. After all, your three
pounds of head cheese are very sensitive to temperature. And we don’t need it freezing. – So Serrador theorizes
that this sudden influx of warm blood is all about maintaining an optimal operating
temperature for the brain. – However, that sudden rush of blood to the closed structure of the skull also seems to raise
pressure, and induce pain. Luckily the brain releases the
pressure almost immediately. – So ironically, the
feeling we call brain freeze is just the body protecting the brain from freezing temperatures. The researchers hoped
to apply these findings to develop better
treatments for migraines, post-traumatic headaches, and
other types of brain pain. – See now don’t you feel a bit like a jerk for setting off your brain’s defenses with all those scoops
of frosty indulgence? – And if you’re a migraine sufferer, have you noticed this
correlation with ice cream? Let us know in the comments below and to keep the videos coming,
make sure to subscribe.


  1. The Little Baby's Ice Cream video is so wonderfully disturbing… and it's a great excuse to dive into the science of BRAIN FREEZE.

  2. personally, my migraines feel a little bit weaker while and a bit after eating ice cream or drinking very cold drinks.. "brain freezes" happen to me quite a lot, but when you have a migraine the sudden headache feels like nothing compared to the migraine headache which lasts for a day or two..

  3. I have never gotten a brain freeze in my life but instead get "back freeze". The pain is located in my upper back when I eat ice cream too fast. What does that mean?!

  4. We all scream for ice cream! This episode of @Stuff to Blow Your Mind looks into the science of brain freeze.

  5. I get migraines and yes, I'm extremely susceptible to ice cream headaches. Even too many sips from an iced beverage and I get a spike to the forehead, hard and fast. But, once I've started drinking a slurpee (for ex.) I can guzzle at leisure. So, just once in the beginning, then freeze away. See also: eating the entire carton of ice cream with only a hammer blow at the start.
    Is this related to cluster headaches?

  6. I have read, that brain freeze goes away quicker, if you hold your tongue against your palate.  Apparently the heat of your tongue reduces the warning signals sent to your brain.  I have tried it and believe it works. What do you think?  Is this right, or is it a placebo effect at work?

  7. Funny thing is, I suffer from migraines and I eat ice cream often (i was eating some Neapolitan while watching this video haha), but I can't recall ever experiencing a brain freeze/ice cream headache.

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