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Neurol Sci. 2014 May;35 Suppl 1:167-9. doi: 10.1007/s10072-014-1762-0.

Is the brain of migraineurs "different" even in dreams?

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Headache Center, L. Sacco Hospital, Milan, Italy,


Migraineurs brain is hyper-excitable and hypo-metabolic. Dreaming is a mental state characterized by hallucinatory features in which imagery, emotion, motor skills and memory are created de novo. To evaluate dreams in different kinds of headache. We included 219 controls; 148 migraineurs (66 with aura-MA, 82 without aura-MO); 45 tension type headache (TTH) patients. ICHD-II diagnostic criteria were used. Ad hoc questionnaire was used to evaluate oneiric activity. The Generalized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire, and the Patient Health Questionnaire were administered to evaluate anxiety and mood. The prevalence of dreamers was similar in different groups. Frequency of visual and auditory dreams was not different between groups. Migraineurs, particularly MA, had an increased frequency of taste dreams (present in 19.6 % of controls, 40.9 % of MA, 23.2 % of MO, 11.1 % of TTH, p < 0.01), and of olfactory dreams (present in 20 % of controls, 36 % of MA, 35 % of MO and 20 % of TTH, p < 0.01). Anxiety and mood did not influence these results. The increased frequency of taste and olfactory dreams among migraineurs seems to be specific, possibly reflecting a particular sensitivity of gustative and olfactory brain structures, as suggested by osmofobia and nausea, typical of migraine. This may suggest the role of some cerebral structures, such as amygdala and hypothalamus, which are known to be involved in migraine mechanisms as well in the biology of sleep and dreaming.

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