Brain mechanisms that give The Iceman unusual resistance to cold

ScienceDaily | 2/28/2018 | Staff
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Wayne State University School of Medicine professors Otto Muzik, Ph.D., and Vaibhav Diwadkar, Ph.D., changed that. Their publication, "Brain Over Body: A study on the willful regulation of autonomic function during cold exposure," published in the journal NeuroImage, is the first to study how The Iceman's brain responds during experimentally controlled whole-body cold exposure. These investigations are part of the scientists' series of seminal studies launched in 2014 on how the human brain responds to thermoregulatory challenges. The results document compelling brain processes in The Iceman and present intriguing possibilities for how his techniques might exert positive effects related to disorders of the immune system and even psychiatry.

Over three days, Muzik and Diwadkar studied Hof's brain and body functions using two distinct imaging techniques -- including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study his brain and positron emission tomography (PET) to study his body. During the studies, Hof wore a specifically designed whole-body suit the researchers could infuse with temperature-controlled water while the imaging data were acquired in order to relate changes in his biology to cold exposure.

Iceman - Results - Group - Comparison - Participants

The Iceman's results when compared to a group of healthy comparison participants were startling.

Practice of the Wim Hof Method made Hof's skin temperature relatively invariant to cold exposure, a finding the researchers attributed to his increased sympathetic innervation and glucose consumption in intercostal muscle revealed by PET imaging. The method appeared to allow him to generate heat that dissipates to lung tissue and warms circulating blood in the pulmonary capillaries.

Regulation - Temperature - Implication - Core - Body

"The willful regulation of skin temperature -- and, by implication, core body temperature, even when the body is being stressed with cold -- is an unusual occurrence and may explain his resistance to frostbite," said...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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