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Cephalalgia. 2017 Sep;37(10):915-926. doi: 10.1177/0333102416657146. Epub 2016 Jun 29.

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

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1 LET'S-ISTC-CNR, Ospedale Fatebenefratelli, Isola Tiberina, Rome, Italy.
2 Movement Control and Neuroplasticity Research Group, Department of Kinesiology, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.
3 Department of Information Engineering, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy.
4 Laboratory of Psychophysiology, Psychiatric Chair, Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome 'Tor Vergata', Rome, Italy.
5 Psychiatry and Clinical Psychology Unit, Department of Neurosciences, Fondazione Policlinico 'Tor Vergata', Rome, Italy.
6 The Wellcome Trust Laboratory for MEG Studies, School of Life and Health Sciences, Aston University, Birmingham, UK.
7 Sapienza University of Rome Polo Pontino, Latina and IRCCS Neuromed, Pozzilli (IS), Italy.
8 G.B. Bietti Foundation IRCCS, Department of Neurophysiology of Vision and Neurophthalmology, Rome, Italy.


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.


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

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