Cortical excitability in patients with migraine with aura and depressive symptoms: a visual evoked potentials study

Submitted: 24 March 2024
Accepted: 7 May 2024
Published: 23 May 2024
Abstract Views: 1010
PDF: 328
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Background: Migraine is a brain disorder characterized by recurring headache attacks, and emotional comorbidities, such as anxiety and depression, may influence the repetition of these attacks. The lack of sensory habituation is a common neurophysiological abnormality in migraine, and research suggests that it is under the influence of serotonin and other monoamines that are also involved in mood disorders. This study aimed to investigate the influence of emotional symptoms on cortical information processing in patients with migraine with aura by correlating cortical activity with self-perceived emotional distress.
Methods: Visual evoked potentials from monocular stimulation were recorded in 16 patients with migraine with aura (MA) and 22 healthy volunteers (HV). The visual stimulus consisted of a full-screen black-and-white checkerboard pattern with a reversal rate of 1.55 Hz. 600 consecutive traces were collected and divided into six sequential blocks of 100 sweeps. Before the recording session, both MA patients and HV completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Pearson's correlation test was used to find correlations between electrophysiological and psychometric variables in HV and MA patients.
Results: Compared to HV, MA patients showed a significant difference in the degree of habituation to repeated visual stimulation between the two groups, resulting in a habitation deficit. Psychometric test results showed that trait STAI and BDI values were significantly higher in MA patients. In the MA group, BDI correlated negatively with the amplitude of the first block and positively with the degree of habituation.
Conclusions: These results highlight a link between the level of brain responsiveness and depressive symptoms in patients with MA. Further research is required to confirm whether the same correlations exist in patients with other headache disorders.



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How to Cite

Casillo F, Abagnale C, Sebastianelli G, Di Renzo A, Parisi V, Cioffi E, Serrao M, Di Lorenzo C. Cortical excitability in patients with migraine with aura and depressive symptoms: a visual evoked potentials study. Confinia Cephalal [Internet]. 2024 May 23 [cited 2024 Jul. 24];34(1). Available from:

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