Brain differences found in people with migraine

Nov 19, 2007

People with migraines have differences in an area of the brain that helps process sensory information, including pain, according to a study published in the November 20, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The study found that part of the cortex area of the brain is thicker in people with migraine than in people who do not have the neurological disorder.

Comparing 24 people with migraine to 12 people without migraine, the study found that the somatosensory cortex area of the brain was an average of 21 percent thicker in those with migraine.

“Repeated migraine attacks may lead to, or be the result of, these structural changes in the brain,” said study author Nouchine Hadjikhani, MD, of The Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. “Most of these people had been suffering from migraines since childhood, so the long-term overstimulation of the sensory fields in the cortex could explain these changes. It’s also possible that people who develop migraines are naturally more sensitive to stimulation.”

Hadjikhani said the results indicate that the brain’s sensory mechanisms are important components in migraine. “This may explain why people with migraines often also have other pain disorders such as back pain, jaw pain, and other sensory problems such as allodynia, where the skin becomes so sensitive that even a gentle breeze can be painful.”

Other studies have shown changes in the cortex. The area becomes thinner in neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s disease. But the area thickens with extensive motor training and learning.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

Explore further: Latent virus and life expectancy

Related Stories

Probing question: What causes migraine?

Mar 19, 2009

Imagine you are talking to a coworker when your vision blurs, and spots of light appear on the periphery. Feeling nauseated, you try to continue the conversation, but you’re having trouble remembering the words for things. ...

Recommended for you

Researchers reveal a genetic blueprint for cartilage

7 hours ago

Cartilage does a lot more than determine the shapes of people's ears and noses. It also enables people to breathe and to form healthy bones—two processes essential to life. In a study published in Cell Re ...

Latent virus and life expectancy

10 hours ago

The telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences at each end of our chromosomes. Studies show that in every cell division, the telomere is shortened. As a result, the telomere limits the cell to a fixed number of divisions and ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.