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Neurology. 2007 Nov 20;69(21):1990-5.

Thickening in the somatosensory cortex of patients with migraine.

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  • 1Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Bldg. 36, First St., Room 417, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.



To examine morphologic changes in the somatosensory cortex (SSC) of patients with migraine.


Cortical thickness of the SSC of patients with migraine was measured in vivo and compared with age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. The cohort was composed of 24 patients with migraine, subdivided into 12 patients who had migraine with aura, 12 patients who had migraine without aura, and 12 controls. Group and individual analyses were performed in the SSC and shown as average maps of significant changes in cortical thickness.


Migraineurs had on average thicker SSCs than the control group. The most significant thickness changes were noticed in the caudal SSC, where the trigeminal area, including head and face, is somatotopically represented.


Our findings indicate the presence of interictal structural changes in the somatosensory cortex (SSC) of migraineurs. The SSC plays a crucial role in the noxious and nonnoxious somatosensory processing. Thickening in the SSC is in line with diffusional abnormalities observed in the subcortical trigeminal somatosensory pathway of the same migraine cohort in a previous study. Repetitive migraine attacks may lead to, or be the result of, neuroplastic changes in cortical and subcortical structures of the trigeminal somatosensory system.

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