Migraine Linked to Distorted Neural Connections

Samantha DiGrande

According to a recent study, people with migraines may have altered connections between the somatosensory cortex and the frontal lobe compared with people who do not experience migraines.

In a study published in the Journal of Headache and Pain, researchers aimed to investigate abnormalities of the frequency-specific somatosensory-related network in patients with migraine by using magnetoencephalography (MEG).

Researchers enrolled 22 patients who experience migraine without aura in the interictal phase and who were right-handed and matched them with 22 health controls by way of sex and age. Investigators sought to examine functional connectivity in the task-related networks of individuals with migraine using MEG.

Right-handed patients with migraine without aura (interictal phase; n = 22; mean age, 29.27; 68.2% women; mean illness duration, 12.70 years; 36% and 64% with bilateral and unilateral migraine, respectively) and sex- and age- matched healthy controls underwent whole head MEG, magnetic resonance imaging, and frequency-specific network analysis. MEG scans were conducted and analyzed in a 1 Hz to 1000 Hz frequency range across multiple bands and a .2 msec electrical stimulus was administered to the right wrist median nerve of each participant.

The study authors found that in the high-frequency band (250-1000 Hz) functional connectivity was increased between the somatosensory cortex and frontal lobe. Additionally, group comparisons showed that “the degree and strength of the functional connectivity network in the migraine patients were greater in some frequency bands compared to those of controls,” wrote the authors. Specifically, investigators were able to identify a larger degree of connectivity in the theta (4-8 Hz), beta (13-30 Hz), and gamma (30-80 Hz) bands, and a greater connectivity strength in the beta and gamma bands, as well. These results suggest elevated cortical networks in patients with migraine.

“This alteration in functional connectivity may be involved in somatosensory processing in migraine patients and may contribute to understanding migraine pathophysiology and to providing convincing evidence for a spatially targeted migraine therapy,” concluded the authors.

Ren J, Xiang J, Chen Y, Li F, Wu T, Shi J. abnormal functional connectivity under somatosensory stimulation in migraine: a multi-frequency magnetoencephalography study [published online January 9, 2019]. J Headache Pain.
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