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Papers of the Week

Papers: 10 Jun 2023 - 16 Jun 2023


Human Studies, Neurobiology, Neuroimaging, Neuromodulation

Migraine/Headache, Psychological/Comorbidities

2023 Jun 13

Sci Rep




Altered functional brain network patterns in patients with migraine without aura after transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation.


Rao Y, Liu W, Zhu Y, Lin Q, Kuang C, Huang H, Jiao B, Ma L, Lin J


Transcutaneous auricular vagus nerve stimulation (taVNS) shows excellent effects on relieving clinical symptoms in migraine patients. Nevertheless, the neurological mechanisms of taVNS for migraineurs remain unclear. In recent years, voxel-wise degree centrality (DC) and functional connectivity (FC) methods were extensively utilized for exploring alterations in patterns of FC in the resting-state brain. In the present study, thirty-five migraine patients without aura and thirty-eight healthy controls (HCs) were recruited for magnetic resonance imaging scans. Firstly, this study used voxel-wise DC analysis to explore brain regions where abnormalities were present in migraine patients. Secondly, for elucidating neurological mechanisms underlying taVNS in migraine, seed-based resting-state functional connectivity analysis was employed to the taVNS treatment group. Finally, correlation analysis was performed to explore the relationship between alterations in neurological mechanisms and clinical symptoms. Our findings indicated that migraineurs have lower DC values in the inferior temporal gyrus (ITG) and paracentral lobule than in healthy controls (HCs). In addition, migraineurs have higher DC values in the cerebellar lobule VIII and the fusiform gyrus than HCs. Moreover, after taVNS treatment (post-taVNS), patients displayed increased FC between the ITG with the inferior parietal lobule (IPL), orbitofrontal gyrus, angular gyrus, and posterior cingulate gyrus than before taVNS treatment (pre-taVNS). Besides, the post-taVNS patients showed decreased FC between the cerebellar lobule VIII with the supplementary motor area and postcentral gyrus compared with the pre-taVNS patients. The changed FC of ITG-IPL was significantly related to changes in headache intensity. Our study suggested that migraine patients without aura have altered brain connectivity patterns in several hub regions involving multisensory integration, pain perception, and cognitive function. More importantly, taVNS modulated the default mode network and the vestibular cortical network related to the dysfunctions in migraineurs. This paper provides a new perspective on the potential neurological mechanisms and therapeutic targets of taVNS for treating migraine.