Impaired brainstem and thalamic high-frequency oscillatory EEG activity in migraine between attacks

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INTRODUCTION: We investigated whether interictal thalamic dysfunction in migraine without aura (MO) patients is a primary determinant or the expression of its functional disconnection from proximal or distal areas along the somatosensory pathway.

METHODS: Twenty MO patients and twenty healthy volunteers (HVs) underwent an electroencephalographic (EEG) recording during electrical stimulation of the median nerve at the wrist. We used the functional source separation algorithm to extract four functionally constrained nodes (brainstem, thalamus, primary sensory radial, and primary sensory motor tangential parietal sources) along the somatosensory pathway. Two digital filters (1-400 Hz and 450-750 Hz) were applied in order to extract low- (LFO) and high- frequency (HFO) oscillatory activity from the broadband signal.

RESULTS: Compared to HVs, patients presented significantly lower brainstem (BS) and thalamic (Th) HFO activation bilaterally. No difference between the two cortical HFO as well as in LFO peak activations between the two groups was seen. The age of onset of the headache was positively correlated with HFO power in the right brainstem and thalamus.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides evidence for complex dysfunction of brainstem and thalamocortical networks under the control of genetic factors that might act by modulating the severity of migraine phenotype.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)915-926
Number of pages12
Issue number10
Early online date29 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2017


  • brainstem, electroencephalography (EEG), functional source separation (FSS), High-frequency oscillations (HFOs), migraine, thalamus


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