Attenuated alpha oscillation and hyperresponsiveness reveals impaired perceptual learning in migraineurs

Chun Yuen Fong, Wai Him Crystal Law, ,Johannes Jacobus Fahrenfort, Jason J. Braithwaite, Ali Mazaheri

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Background: Anomalous phantom visual perceptions coupled to an aversion and discomfort to some visual patterns (especially grating in mid-range spatial frequency) have been associated with the hyperresponsiveness in migraine patients. Previous literature has found fluctuations of alpha oscillation (8-14 Hz) over the visual cortex to be associated with the gating of the visual stream. In the current study, we examined whether alpha activity was differentially
modulated in migraineurs in anticipation of an upcoming stimulus as well as post-stimulus periods.

Methods: We used EEG to examine the brain activity in a group of 28 migraineurs (17 with aura/11 without) and 29 non-migraineurs and compared their alpha power in the pre/post stimulus period relative to the onset of stripped gratings.

Results: Overall, we found that migraineurs had significantly less alpha power prior to the onset of the stimulus relative to controls. Moreover, migraineurs had significantly greater post44 stimulus alpha suppression (i.e event-related desynchronization) induced by the grating in 3
cycles per degree at the 2nd 45 half of the experiment.

Conclusions: These findings taken together provide strong support for the presence of the hyperresponsiveness of the visual cortex of migraine sufferers. We speculate that it could be the consequence of impaired perceptual learning driven by the dysfunction of GABAergic inhibitory mechanism.
Original languageEnglish
Article number44
JournalThe Journal of Headache and Pain
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2022


  • alpha
  • alpha oscillation
  • hyperexcitability
  • migraine
  • pattern glare
  • perceptual learning


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