Researchers from Harvard Medical School have found increased thickness of two areas of the brain cortex in people with migraine when compared to healthy controls. Both areas of the brain are known to be involved in how the brain processes signals to do with movement.
Using two forms of magnetic resonance imaging the researchers studied 24 patients with migraine (12 who had migraine with aura and 12 without aura) and 15 age-matched healthy controls.
There were no differences in cortical thickness in motion-related areas between the participants with migraine who had aura (neurological disturbances such as illusions of flashing lights, zig-zag lines, or blind spots) and those who did not, but the area of cortical thickening in one area corresponded to the source of cortical spreading depression previously identified in a person who had migraine with aura. As well as showing that there are some structural differences in the brains of people with migraine, the position of the changes could help to explain why some people with migraine have problems with visual processing even in between attacks.
In a Perspective article commenting on the work Peter Goadsby from the Institute of Neurology, London said "the new data show that after four millennia, migraine still has many more secrets to be uncovered."
Citation: Granziera C, DaSilva AFM, Snyder J, Tuch DS, Hadjikhani N (2006) Anatomical alterations of the visual motion processing network in migraine with and without aura. PLoS Med 3(10): e402. (http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030402)
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