Current Through Electrodes To Reverse An Unfolding Migraine: Research

A pain so incapacitating that a possible cure has to match the dramatics to be effective! A team of researchers from CCNY’s Grove School of Engineering have now devised a procedure by which electric current is passed through your brain to undo a migraine attack at it’s prodrome phase.

Sending Electric Currents To The Brain’s Pain Network (1)

The team of biochemical engineers led by associate professor, Dr. Marom Bikson, associate professor of biomedical engineering have clearly demonstrated that brain stimulation technology works. So what is done in this shocking procedure? The technique involves passing low voltage electric current to the brain from electrodes attached to a person’s scalp. The researchers focused on that part of the brain which has a network of interconnected brain regions involved in processing pain signals, called the pain network. To their surprise they found the technique could reverse ingrained changes in the brain caused by chronic migraine.

This procedure applies the principal of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS). As per Bikson, “We developed this technology and methodology in order to get the currents deep into the brain. The fact that people still suffer from migraines means that the existing treatments using electrical technology or chemistry are not working.” (2)

The study found that repeated sessions reduced both the duration and the intensity of pain in close to 40% of the migraineurs. The technique is recommended by Dr. Bikson to be used every day to ward off attacks, or periodically, like a booster. So far, the only side-effect recorded has been mild-tingling sensation in the person during the time s/he receives the procedure.

The researchers are looking forward to widen and scale up there clinical trials to come up with more findings across demographics so that once through te treatment can be made available at hospitals world over.

This new transcranial direct current stimulation (tCDS) has the following advantages over the other cranial nerve stimulation techniques available to medicine:

  • No need for unwieldy equipment
  • No potentially dangerous side-effects such as seizures
  • Stimulation of the deep brain instead of just the upper layer of the brain
  • No need for surgery to reach deep brain region to plant electrodes
  • Portable system and can develop the unit as small as an iPod working on a 9 volt battery.


  1. Image by Victor Habbick;; May 2012;
  2. Technology Eases Migraine Pain in the Deep Brain; Science Daily News; May 2012;

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