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Papers of the Week

Papers: 5 Oct 2019 - 11 Oct 2019

Human Studies


2020 May - Jun

J Pain



Headache related alterations of visual processing in migraine patients.


Lisicki M, D'Ostilio K, Coppola G, Nonis R, Maertens de Noordhout A, Parisi V, Magis D, Schoenen J
J Pain. 2020 May - Jun; 21(5-6):593-602.
PMID: 31586677.


Migraine is characterized by an increased sensitivity to visual stimuli that worsens during attacks. Recent evidence has shown that feedforward volleys carrying incoming visual information induce high frequency (gamma) oscillations in the visual cortex, while feedback volleys arriving from higher order brain areas induce oscillatory activity at lower frequencies (theta/alpha/low-beta). We investigated visually induced high (feedforward) and low (feedback) frequency activations in healthy subjects and various migraine patients. Visual evoked potentials from 20 healthy controls and 70 migraine patients (30 inter-ictal and 20 ictal episodic migraineurs, 20 chronic migraineurs) were analysed in the frequency domain. We compared power in the theta-alpha-low beta and gamma range between groups, and searched for correlations between the low-to-high frequency activity ratio and number of monthly headache and migraine days. Compared to healthy controls, inter-ictal migraine patients had increased visually induced low frequency (feedback) activity. Conversely, ictal and chronic migraine patients showed an augmented gamma band (feedforward) power. The low-frequency-to-gamma (feedback/feedforward) activity ratio correlated negatively with monthly headache days and tended to do so with migraine days. Our findings show that visual processing is differentially altered depending on migraine cycle and type. Feedback control from higher order cortical areas predominates interictally in episodic migraine while migraine attacks and chronic migraine are associated with enhanced incoming afferent activity, confirming their similar electrophysiological profile. The presence of headache is associated with proportionally higher gamma (feedforward) activities. Perspective: This study provides an insight into the pathophysiology of migraine headache from the perspective of cortical sensory processing dynamics. Patients with migraine present alterations in feedback and feedforward visual signalling that differ with the presence of headache.