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Headache. 2019 Apr;59(4):637-649. doi: 10.1111/head.13512. Epub 2019 Apr 6.

Recent Insights in Migraine With Aura: A Narrative Review of Advanced Neuroimaging.

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Headache Center, Department of Medical, Surgical, Neurological, Metabolic and Aging Sciences, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Naples, Italy.
MRI Research Center SUN-FISM, University of Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Naples, Italy.
Institute for Diagnosis and Care "Hermitage Capodimonte", Naples, Italy.



Migraine is a complex neurological disorder characterized by severe headaches associated with a plethora of sensory hypersensitivity and neurovegetative symptoms. In about one-third of the cases, a set of fully reversible focal neurological symptoms, the aura, accompanies the headache. In the last decades, advanced neuroimaging investigations allowed identification of structural, microstructural, and functional abnormalities characterizing the brain of patients with migraine with aura (MwA). However, mechanisms underlying the aura phenomena are still a matter of debate.


This article reviews the most significant findings from advanced neuroimaging studies in patients with MwA both to provide a unifying physiopathological model of the aura phenomena and to clarify the potential impact of advanced neuroimaging investigation in the clinical field.


A comprehensive review of PubMed citations was conducted by entering the key words "magnetic resonance imaging" combined with "migraine" AND "aura." Other key words included "grey matter" OR "white matter," "structural" OR "functional." The only restriction was to English-language publications. The abstracts of all articles published between 1997 and 2018 meeting these criteria were reviewed, and the full texts were examined for relevance to the topic.


Although several advanced neuroimaging studies have been conducted to investigate the neural correlates of aura phenomena, they have failed in identifying underlying pathophysiological mechanisms in their entirety. Nevertheless, functional and structural neuroimaging findings concerning the extrastriate visual cortex are characterized by a high level of reproducibility, so much so that they could be applied, in a not so far future, as diagnostic, prognostic, or therapeutic biomarkers for MwA.


advanced neuroimaging; fMRI; functional; migraine with aura; resting-state; structural


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