Ice Cream = Happiness ?!?!?!?!

Have u ever heard a girl that just broke up with her boyfriend say she’s going to drown her sorrows in a pint of Ben and Jerrys? I know I was that girl. I never really though about the science behind why it made me so happy. Was it just my taste buds, or was it affecting my brain too? Being sad IS an excuse for people to eat tubs on tubs of ice cream. Many people love the taste of ice cream and consider it to be a treat to their taste buds. so is it true? Does ice cream really make us happy?


The Background:

The myth that eating ice cream makes you happy may not be a myth after all. A study to test this was conducted in 2010 at the Centre for Neuroimaging Sciences, Institute of Psychiatry, London in collaboration with Professor of Neuroimaging, Michael Brammer . Their goal was to prove, with scientific evidence, that ice cream does make people happy and they achieved this by using fMRI brain imaging. This was a nonrandomized controlled trial because they chose the . First, they chose the participants. They picked eight graduate and post graduate staff at the Institute of Psychiatry because they were familiar with the fMRI scanner. This was important so that they would not be nervous in the machine causing the brain image data to turn out differently. They also made sure they kept the ice cream brand and flavor constant (Carte D’Or Vanilla Ice Cream, stored/ served at the recommended temperature). 

The Procedure:

Before they began, the participants were told that they were to rate how much they liked to ice cream (on a 5 point scale from -2 to +2). Each participant was brought to a testing room with a scanner table that they would lay on. The participant put headphones in and then they were scanned by the fMRI to see their original brain activity. They are given a small amount of water thirty seconds before taking each bite of ice cream. They are all given fifteen spoonfuls of ice cream, in one minute increments, with as little head movement as possible. The pipettes of warm water in between acted as a control stimulus to the ice cream. It was good that they used a control so that they can compare results for better accuracy, but I think they should have used more than one ice cream. What if this one ice cream affected them more or less than normal?


The Result:

It’s true… ice cream does make us happy! It was found that the Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC), a part of the brain which plays a role in emotional processing and decision making, is activated when eating ice cream. The OFC showed a positive emotional ponse when eating ice cream, almost like the brain was being rewarded (Oxford Journals). There were five other parts of the brain that were positively activated by eating ice cream: The primary somatosensory cortex, insula cortex, motor cortex, dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, and retrosplenial cingulate. The primary somatosensory cortex was affected by the temperature/ texture, the insula cortex was triggered by the taste, the motor cortex was activated by how the mouth moved, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex excites the brain when ice cream is consumed, and the retrosplenial cingulate was positively affected so the person was emotionally happy because of the ice cream.


This specific experiment concluded that ice cream pleasures the brain, and pleasure equals happiness. (: This makes me wonder about how other foods affect our moods. I would love to hear responses about what you guys think can affect our brains like this and why. So, according to these arguments, girls: maybe you should eat ice cream next time you and your dude get into a fight….



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