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What Happens During A Brain Freeze

By Olivia Harlow

Cat got your tongue? Memory lapse? Brain freeze? Brain fart? Whatever you call it, few things are as frustrating as when your memory forsakes you, leaving you desperately trying to remember something that’s usually very simple. But what’s happening when your brain decides to play tricks on you? Why is your brain so mean sometimes?




Long story short, scientists don’t really know. Like most memory-related phenomena, scientists aren’t exactly sure what’s causing your brain to stiffen up like an overbaked cookie in a too-hot oven. Since we don’t know exactly how memories are stored, what they look like in the brain, and what it is to recall memories, we’re mostly just grasping at straws.


So, since we can’t know exactly what is going on, we can try instead to figure out why it happens.




While it’s impossible to prevent these memory lapses from happening altogether, there are certain causes and correlations that doctors have found that make these uncomfortable experiences more common. Maybe by understanding the whys, we can reduce the amount of times we’re left scratching our heads with a blank look in our eyes.


  1. Sleep Loss
    It’s no secret that memories are formed and reinforced during sleep, so it shouldn’t be surprising that a lack of sleep can have other bad reactions. Make sure you get your 8 hours!
  2. Medications
    The brain has some pretty complex chemistry that allows it to function, and certain medications can throw that all out of whack. Make sure to talk to your doctor about certain side effects with all of your medicines!

  3. Stress and Anxiety
    Stress and anxiety cause tons of distraction. Distraction makes it so that you don’t form memories well. Being stressed or suffering from anxiety can have an adverse impact on how you recall your memories.
  4. Brain Injuries
    Rattling your noodle too hard has been shown to greatly impact your brain’s ability to process information. That means that recalling little bits of information can get lost on arrival, leaving you wondering where you left the keys last night.
  5. Age
    An unfortunate truth about growing older is that your brain can start to get its wires crossed. Even if you don’t suffer from major diseases like Alzheimer’s, you can still be a victim to your brain playing mean memory tricks on you.


    Even though we don’t know exactly what happens when memory lapses leave you dazed and confused, there are certain steps you can take to help stave them off. Get enough sleep, don’t hit your head too hard, and keep a cool head are all small things you can do to keep your brain running at optimum efficiency.

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