Migraine, A study of environmental and intrapersonal factors

  • L.M. Debney

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


A study was carried out of 45 migrainous patients with visually induced migraine (VIM), and 25 migrainous students, each having an age and sex matched control. The study utilised questionnaires, interviews, electroencephalography (EEG) and visual evoked potentials (VEP). The experimental work and analysis was carried out in the Neuropsychology Unit in collaboration with the Birmingham Migraine Clinic, over a period of five years.
The study suggests:
1. The literature on a possible relationship between migraine and epilepsy hitherto published is unreliable (supporting evidence is given).
2. That a much greater precision is needed in defining migraine for research purposes.
3. A revised methodology for the selection of controls is needed and this is proposed.
4. That despite what are now seen to be superficial similarities, there are clear distinctions of a fundamental nature between photo-sensitive epilepsy (PSE) and VIM.
5. Caution be used when taking headache as a symptom, since many of the precipitants of migrainous headache can also precipitate non-migrainous headache (NMH).
6. The list of visual precipitants of migraine is expanded (particularly flicker and pattern).
7. That colour (principally red) is a previously unreported precipitant of migraine.
8. The extended range of responses to flicker (the 'H' response) has no significant difference in its frequency of occurrence in patients and normal controls, which contradicts previous literature.
9. The mechanisms thought to underlie migraine serve to explain previously unexplained EEG findings.
10. Further research is needed and proposed.
Date of AwardOct 1978
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGraham F.A. Harding (Supervisor) & Neville Drasdo (Supervisor)


  • migraine
  • epilepsy
  • photosentive epilepsy (PSE)
  • electroencephalography (EEG)
  • intermittent photic stimulation (IPS)

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