The Sunny Sneeze

Some people (up to 24% in one survey) tend to sneeze when they are exposed to bright light. A new name for this reflex is Autosomal Cholinergic Helio-Ophtalmologic Outburst syndrome, or ACHOO for short. Har har. The same researchers who came up with this acronym compared EEGs of people who sneezed as response to light and those who don't. The subjects also filled out a questionnaire designed to stimulate brain activity, and also to find out how much their noses tickled in response to light. Bursts of light accompanied the EEGs.
You can see the red line above showing the photo sneezers had much higher nose-tickle response to bright light, and showed stronger activity in the somatosensory cortex, an area that processes sensory information. So it appears that people with ACHOO Syndrome have higher sensory responses to both the tickle sensation and to the visual stimulus of the bright light.

Unfortunately, they weren't able to come up with a connection between the two areas and a sneeze reflex center (we're not that good yet), but it's certainly a first step, and the hypothesis is that the insula, may link the areas, though other pathways could exist as well (the insula is totally everyone's favorite brain area right now, ain't it?).

Could it possibly be that some people are just more sensitive than others? Link

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I dubbed this a "Solar Sneeze" when I was a kid. It's a term I've been spreading to my friends ever since. ACHOO my butt.
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I have this! Happens to me everytime I leave a matinee showing and it's bright and sunny outside. My friend thinks I'm crazy or something.
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forgive me for being un-sourced but some time in the past couple of years i heard about a theory that said the optical nerve is very close to a nerve involved in sneezing and that in some people, a bright light can "overload" the optic nerve to the point where it leaks a little, affecting the other nerve.
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