Help, I’m Having a Maladaptive Brain Activity Change!

In science, there’s a word for everything—especially all the weird and gross things your body does and makes.

Ice Cream Headache

If you eat ice cream too fast, you’re going to give yourself an “ice cream headache” or “brain freeze.” But what are you supposed to do? If you eat ice cream (or a popsicle, or a slushy…) too slow, it melts. And so, we risk that brief but intense headache. The scientific name for that particular minor trauma is called sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia.

Brain Fart

It’s not a very couth term, but it’s a very descriptive term: “brain fart.” That’s when your brain “shorts out” and you blank out for a second when you’re talking or thinking and suddenly, for a moment, the words or thoughts don’t come. This temporary mental break is more properly known as a maladaptive brain activity change.

Food Coma

You know that feeling you get after Thanksgiving—when you’re so full that you just can’t pay attention to the football game or A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving for another second and doze off right there in a cozy recliner? That’s not because of the tryptophan in the turkey—you’re in a “food coma,” the slang term for eating so much your body needs to go unconscious for a while. This sleepiness after mass ingestion of calories can happen any time of year, and it’s called postprandial somnolence.

Eye Gunk

There are lots of names for that eye gunk that forms in the corner of your, uh, eyes, especially during sleep. They’re named everything from eye gunk to eye crust to crusties to sleep stuff. It’s a crumbly bit of junk made up of dust, oils, dead skin cells, mucus, and other stuff that accumulates because your eyes are too inactive during sleep to properly dispose of it. Its name: rheum.

Déjà Vu

Have you read this before? Maybe, but not here…but it just “feels” like you did? It sure sounds like you’re experiencing “déjà vu.” There isn’t a good phrase in English to describe that eerie sense of re-living a moment, so we just use the French one—it translates to “already seen.” Not only the French have a word for that weird feeling. Psychologists call it paramnesia.