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Brain Abnormalities Observed in Migraine Patients

Scans of patients with and without aura show structural changes in motion-processing networks

FRIDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Migraine patients appear to have increased thickness in two areas of the brain cortex associated with motion-processing, according to a study published in the October issue of the open-access journal PLoS-Medicine.

Cristina Granziera, M.D., of Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues used two forms of magnetic resonance imaging to study the motion-processing network in 24 migraine patients (12 who had migraine with aura and 12 who had migraine without aura) and 15 healthy controls.

The researchers found that all of the migraine patients had increased cortical thickness of the motion-processing visual areas MT-plus and V3A compared to controls. They also found that increased cortical thickness was associated with abnormalities of the subjacent white matter. In addition, migraine patients were found to have alterations in other areas of the brain involved in visual processing, the superior colliculus and the lateral geniculate nucleus.

"These data need to be considered in the light of recent structural imaging suggesting, in a study of a random sample of patients with migraine, that those with aura may be particularly at risk for brain lesions on magnetic resonance imaging," states Peter J. Goadsby, M.D., Ph.D., in an accompanying editorial. "The data also need to be seen in the context of no detected change in voxel-based morphometry (a computational approach to neuroanatomy that measures differences in local concentrations of brain tissue) in the brains of patients with migraine."

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