Patients with chronic migraine exposed to visual stimulation may have enhanced activity in the spinal trigeminal nucleus and the right superior colliculus compared with healthy individuals, according to results of a study published in Neurology.

The study included participants with episodic migraine (n=18), participants with chronic migraine (n=17), and healthy controls (n=19). Each participant underwent 1 session of high-resolution brainstem imaging during which a rotating checkerboard was presented repeatedly as a visual stimulus.

Participants with chronic migraine showed enhanced activity within the spinal trigeminal nucleus and the right superior colliculus compared with healthy controls. Participants with migraines who had headaches vs no headaches during imaging showed stronger activation of the spinal trigeminal nucleus.

”Our data thus suggest that sensitization of trigeminovisual pathways is pronounced in [those with] chronic migraine compared [with individuals with episodic migraine] and [healthy controls]….We provide evidence for the existence of light-responsive neurons within the [spinal trigeminal nucleus] in humans and for a pronounced sensitization of the visual system in [those with] chronic migraine,” concluded the researchers.

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Reference

Schulte LH, Allers A, May A. Visual stimulation leads to activation of the nociceptive trigeminal nucleus in chronic migraine [published online April 27, 2018]. Neurology. doi:10.1212/WNL.0000000000005622