The Cause of “Brain Freeze” Discovered at Last?

You know why I’m certain that the singularity predictions are complete bunk? Because we know so little about the brain that we’re still not altogether sure what causes “brain freeze,” those hideous headaches you get from that first, always-too-fast sip of a Slurpee.

Until recently, there was some speculation that it had to do with the cooling/warming of sinus blood vessels. Not so, says some new research:

By bringing on brain freeze in the lab in volunteers and studying blood flow in their brains, the researchers show that the sudden headache seems to be triggered by an abrupt increase in blood flow in the anterior cerebral artery and disappears when this artery constricts. The findings could eventually lead to new treatments for a variety of different headache types.

In this study, Serrador and his colleague recruited 13 healthy adults. The researchers monitored the volunteers’ blood flow in several brain arteries using transcranial Doppler while they first sipped ice water with the straw pressed against their upper palate—ideal conditions for bringing on brain freeze—and then while sipping the same amount of water at room temperature. The volunteers raised their hand once they felt the pain of a brain freeze, then raised it again once the pain dissipated. Findings showed that one particular artery, called the anterior cerebral artery, dilated rapidly and flooded the brain with blood in conjunction to when the volunteers felt pain. Soon after this dilation occurred, the same vessel constricted as the volunteers’ pain receded.

Changing the Course of HeadachesSerrador and his colleagues speculate that the dilation, then quick constriction, may be a type of self-defense for the brain. “The brain is one of the relatively important organs in the body, and it needs to be working all the time,” he explains. “It’s fairly sensitive to temperature, so vasodilation might be moving warm blood inside tissue to make sure the brain stays warm.” But because the skull is a closed structure, Serrador adds, the sudden influx of blood could raise pressure and induce pain. The following vasoconstriction may be a way to bring pressure down in the brain before it reaches dangerous levels.

Lest you think this is some kind of pointless exercise, the real purpose of the study was to better understand the causes of migraines and other persistent headaches. The idea is to use “brain freeze,” which can be induced safely and without the use of drugs, to understand more serious medical problems.

Remains of Abbot of Furness Discovered

The abbot of Furness, in situ with crosier

A major discovery at Furness Abbey, in the Lake District in England, may have revealed the long-lost remains of an abbot, along with his crosier and jewelry.

Furness was a powerful, wealthy Cistercian monastery until Henry VIII seized control of the church, dissolved the monasteries, and looted their treasures, leaving the grand edifices to rot. The picturesque ruins were made famous by Romantic poets and artists.

Despite years of excavation and restoration at the site, the remains of one of the abbots were undiscovered until two years ago. Archaeologists could tell that the abbot was heavy, and had curvature of the spine, which suggest he may have had type 2 diabetes. Now, the remains–which may date from anytime between the 12th and 16th centuries–are being studied to see what we can learn about the abbot, and determine when he lived and died.

The skeleton of a portly figure was discovered almost by fluke when emergency repairs had to be made to the abbey at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria.

Cracks had appeared in the ‘mouldered walls’ that featured in Wordsworth’s ‘At Furness Abbey’ verse from his 1805 Prelude, and in some of JWM Turner’s etchings.

They were caused by medieval wooden foundations rotting away. Archaeologists and structural engineers called in to examine them dug down and found an undisturbed, unmarked and unknown grave.

Its significance was immediately apparent. Whoever was buried here had been placed in the presbytery – the most prestigious position in the abbey, usually reserved for those held in greatest esteem.

With the remains were rare medieval jewellery and a silver and gilt crozier, a senior abbot’s staff of office.

In the Prelude, Book 2, Wordsworth describes the Abbey ruins, which was a favorite spot:

… the antique Walls
Of that large Abbey which within the vale
Of Nightshade, to St. Mary’s honour built,
Stands yet, a mouldering Pile, with fractured Arch,
Belfry, and Images, and living Trees,
A holy Scene!

It was surely more holy before Henry got his mitts on it.

“Saying stupid stuff in Latin doesn’t make it smart”

Fr. Powell does a fine Fisking of the most notorious quote from LCWR keynote speaker Barbara Marx Hubbard, in which she spouts raw heresy about the resurrection.

Although we may never know what really happened [So, “what really happened” is not recorded in the Gospels?], we do know that the story told in the Gospels is that Jesus’ resurrection was a first demonstration of what I call the post-human universal person [And how do we know this?  Because you say so?  We should trust you but not the Gospels?]. We are told that he did not die [False.  2,000 years of Christian teaching is crystal clear:  the man Jesus died on the Cross.  No Christian church/denomination denies this fact]. He made his transition [died?], released his animal body [died?], and reappeared in a new body at the next level of physicality [There are “levels of physicality”?  Has anyone told Dawkins?  What does this mean?] to tell all of us that we would do what he did [Didn’t he mention something about following his Way while he was still living; or, was all that just a dream? How did he tell us this?  Through the apparently unreliable Gospels?]. The new person that he became [Person?  But he “released his animal body,” so what does “person” mean?”] had continuity of consciousness with his life as Jesus of Nazareth, an earthly life in which he had become fully human and fully divine [Wait.  Has he released his animal body at this point?  I’m confused about the chronology of the releasing of the animal body!  Is the Jesus of the Animal Body a product of the continuity of consciousness, or does that stuff come later?]. Jesus’ life [Which Jesus?  Pre or post-release of the animal body?] stands as a model of the transition from Homo sapiens to Homo universalis [Saying stupid stuff in Latin doesn’t make it smart].

There’s more, so read it all. Don’t mess with Dominicans.