Welcome to the March 18th stop for A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist by Mike Tranter PhD, organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for excerpt spotlights, author guest & interview spots, reviews, and a giveaway! More on that at the end of this post.
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Author Guest Post
As a neuroscientist I want to talk about something……..can brain freeze kill you?
Hey Everyone, my name is Dr Mike Tranter, and I’m a neuroscience researcher writing a book where I explain the brain in a fun and simple way. I asked people from all over the world to submit their questions for me to answer in the book, and I got some really interesting ones that I had not thought about much myself, but really sparked my own curiosity.
One example, is about brain freeze. I mean, what actually is brain freeze, and how deadly can it be?
OK, firstly, because I am writing this blog as a scientist, I should at least try and use the correct medical term for brain freeze (also called ice cream headache) which is sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia. You know what, on second thought, that is a bit of a mouthful so I think we can stick to brain freeze for this part after all. Brain freeze happens when you eat or drink something icy too quickly, causing you to experience a rapid and intense headache which thankfully goes away just as quickly.
When you rapidly change the temperature at the back of your throat near two important arteries, the brain really doesn’t like it, because these two arteries are crucial for the brain. The carotid artery takes blood to the brain, and the cerebral artery distributes it around. The sudden temperature change causes a dramatic increase in the blood through both arteries, which the brain notices.
The pain comes when temperature receptors that line the brain’s membrane notice the change and send out messages to the brain. The main nerve for the face and head is activated and causes an intense feeling which the brain interprets as pain so that you stop whatever it is you’re doing (like eating your body weight in ice cream like a champion). Brain freeze happens as a way for your body to tell you that the sensation is too intense. The brain likes things to be nice and consistent. It enjoys nothing better than living a boring life where everything is nice, controlled, and safe.
Once the mouth and throat warm up, the blood vessels get smaller, and the blood flow reverts back to normal, which doesn’t take long. Although the feeling of brain freeze is not very pleasant and can feel like something serious, it really isn’t. Even the strongest headache from brain freeze is simply an intense signal from your brain, and nothing more. There has never been a recorded case of someone dying from it or having any other side effects other than an aversion to ice cream, momentarily, of course.
Interestingly, people who suffer from migraines are more likely to experience brain freeze. Exactly why this happens is not fully understood, but it is being researched in an attempt to find new drugs for migraines.
So, there we have it. A short explanation of what brain freeze is and why we get it. Although, nothing is going to stop me from eating ice cream as fast as I can. I just enjoy it too much.
If you want to learn more about the brain, and what is really going on in it, then check out my book, A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist – the brain made easy, and I am sure you will find out some more interesting things you never expected.
About the Book
A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist
by Mike Tranter PhD
Published 11 March 2021
Genre: Non-Fiction, Popular Science/ Brain
Page Count: 250
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
A Million Things To Ask A Neuroscientist answers some of the most asked questions about the brain, making the science fun and accessible to everyone. Inside, you will journey through some of the most interesting and strange things that our brain does every single day.
Have you always wanted to know just what a memory actually is, or why we dream? What is our consciousness? Why do some people seem to ‘click’ with others? And can our brain really multi-task?
The clearest idea about why we dream is that the brain needs time to process the memories and emotions that we experienced during the day and convert them into long-term storage. This makes a lot more sense when we look at the brains of people who are sleeping and see that the hippocampus, the part for memories, and the anterior cingulate cortex, which is involved in assigning emotional context, are particularly active. In fact, on days where we have lots of new experiences, the brain can still be processing this information up to seven nights later. This also partly explains why stressful and emotional events in our lives can significantly affect the quality of our sleep.
One team of scientists demonstrated this by having people play video games for several hours before sleeping. Over 60% of people reported having dreams about the game, suggesting that our short-term memory is particularly active during our dreams.
Furthermore, the actual events of the dream are believed to be the combination of the short-term memories we recently experienced, and the long-term memories that our brain thinks are relevant and need to be connected with each other. This supports the view that sleeping and dreaming help to cement our memories from short-term storage in the hippocampus to long-term storage all over the brain. This process happens mostly in NREM sleep and the application of emotional context – how we feel about them, occurs in REM sleep, our deep sleep.
About the Author
Dr Mike Tranter is from the North of England and studied how drugs work in our body, but it wasn’t long before he found his true calling as a neuroscientist. After a PhD in neuroscience, he spent years in research labs all over the world, studying how the brain works. Although, it is his prominent rise as a science communicator, opening up the world of neuroscience to everybody, that he enjoys the most.
Michael Tranter PhD will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.a Rafflecopter giveaway
|March 15||Deborah-Zenha Adams|
|March 16||Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews|
|March 17||It’s Raining Books|
|March 18||Westveil Publishing|
|March 19||The Avid Reader|
|March 22||Fabulous and Brunette|
|March 23||Our Town Book Reviews|
|March 24||Andi’s Book Reviews|
|March 25||Long and Short Reviews|
|March 26||Wake Up Your Wild Side|
|March 26||Novels Alive|
|March 29||Becoming Extraordinary|
|March 31||All the Ups and Downs|
|March 31||Viviana MacKade|
|April 1||The Adventures of a Travelers Wife|
|April 2||Hurn Publications|
|April 2||Travel the Ages|
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