It's a long, hot summer's day and you're looking forward to an ice cream. But within seconds of your first bite, you feel a headache coming on: a brain freeze. What's going on?

Your brain isn't literally freezing, or even sensing cold. It can't sense cold or pain because it lacks its own internal sensory receptors. In fact, surgeons usually perform brain surgery on conscious, sedated patients with the only pain coming from the scalp, skull and underlying tissues, not from the brain itself.

An international team of neurologists classifies brain freeze or ice cream headache as a:

headache attributed to ingestion or inhalation of a cold stimulus.

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