Exploring sensory sensitivity, cortical excitability, and habituation in episodic migraine, as a function of age and disease severity, using the pattern-reversal task
Background Migraine is a cyclic, neurosensory disorder characterized by recurrent headaches and altered sensory processing. The latter is manifested in hypersensitivity to visual stimuli, measured with questionnaires and sensory thresholds, as well as in abnormal cortical excitability and a lack of habituation, assessed with visual evoked potentials elicited by pattern-reversal stimulation. Here, the goal was to determine whether factors such as age and/or disease severity may exert a modulatory influence on sensory sensitivity, cortical excitability, and habituation. Methods Two similar experiments were carried out, the first comparing 24 young, episodic migraine patients and 28 healthy age- and gender-matched controls and the second 36 middle-aged, episodic migraine patients and 30 healthy age- and gender-matched controls. A neurologist confirmed the diagnoses. Migraine phases were obtained using eDiaries. Sensory sensitivity was assessed with the Sensory Perception Quotient and group comparisons were carried out. We obtained pattern-reversal visual evoked potentials and calculated the N1-P1 Peak-to-Peak amplitude. Two linear mixed-effects models were fitted to these data. The first model had Block (first block, last block) and Group (patients, controls) as fixed factors, whereas the second model had Trial (all trials) and Group as fixed factors. Participant was included as a random factor in both. N1-P1 first block amplitude was used to assess cortical excitability and habituation was defined as a decrease of N1-P1 amplitude across Blocks/Trials. Both experiments were performed interictally. Results The final samples consisted of 18 patients with episodic migraine and 27 headache-free controls (first experiment) and 19 patients and 29 controls (second experiment). In both experiments, patients reported increased visual hypersensitivity on the Sensory Perception Quotient as compared to controls. Regarding N1-P1 peak-to-peak data, there was no main effect of Group, indicating no differences in cortical excitability between groups. Finally, significant main effects of both Block and Trial were found indicating habituation in both groups, regardless of age and headache frequency. Conclusions The results of this study yielded evidence for significant hypersensitivity in patients but no significant differences in either habituation or cortical excitability, as compared to headache-free controls. Although the alterations in patients may be less pronounced than originally anticipated they demonstrate the need for the definition and standardization of optimal methodological parameters.
Cortical excitability; Migraine; Visual sensitivity
Marti-Marca A, Vilà-Balló A, Cerda-Company X, Ikumi N, Torres-Ferrus M, Caronna E, et al. Exploring sensory sensitivity, cortical excitability, and habituation in episodic migraine, as a function of age and disease severity, using the pattern-reversal task. J Headache Pain. 2023 Aug 7;24:104.
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