Disrupted Default Mode Network Seen In Migraineurs W/o Aura: Study

Neural Netwoork

The Default Mode Network Shows Functional Disruptions For Migraineurs W/o Aura (1)

A recent study published in The Journal of Headache and Pain spoke of disrupted default mode network in migraineurs. The study used specialized imaging device, the RS-fMRI or the Resting State functional MRI to show the disrupted network in pain conditions including migraines.

The research departments of five institutes were involved in this groundbreaking study – Department of Neurology, Second University of Naples, Institute for Diagnosis and Care “Hermitage Capodimonte”, Neuro-radiology Service, Second University of Naples, Department of Cognitive Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands, and Department of Medicine and Surgery, University of Salerno.

A default mode network or DMN is the arrangement of connections of different brain regions which are active when a person is not focussed on something yet is in wakeful rest state. At such a state, the default mode network takes over and it is characterized by coherent neuronal oscillations at a rate lower than 0.1 Hz (2). However, when the mind is focussed on to something like task completion activities, the DMN is automatically de-activated and another network known as the Task Positive Network or TPN is activated.

The study was aimed at finding the DMN functional connectivity in migraineurs without aura and see if it was clinically relevant. Two groups were used in the study population – 20 patients with migraines without aura and 20 gender and age-matched healthy controls were studied. The imaging and tracking tools used were Brain Voyager QX. Voxel-based morphometry was used to assess whether between-group differences in DMN functional connectivity were related to structural differences.

The study exhibited that there was a significant reduction in the connectivity at the prefrontal and temporal regions of the default network (DMN) for the migraineurs without aura. However, there was no correlation of these findings with the fact if the migraineurs had any structural abnormalities or clinical and neuropsychological features.

As per the research correspondent Alessandro Tessitore, “We hypothesize that a DMN dysfunction may be related to behavioural processes such as a maladaptive response to stress which seems to characterize patients with migraine.” (3)

To view details of this study, you may access the Springer’s Open Access pdf file: http://www.thejournalofheadacheandpain.com/content/pdf/1129-2377-14-89.pdf


  1.  Image Credits: Neuron by Renjith Krishnan; FreeDigitalPhotos,net; Web November 2013; http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/Human_body_g281-Neuron_p125335.html
  2. Default Mode Network; Wikipedia; Web November 2013; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Default_mode_network
  3. Disrupted default mode network connectivity in migraine without aura; 7thSpaceInteractive; Web November 2013; http://7thspace.com/headlines/446815/disrupted_default_mode_network_connectivity_in_migraine_without_aura.html

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No Sign Of Early Mental Deterioration In Migraineurs: Study


No Mental Deterioration In Elder Migraineurs Due To Repeated Episodes (1)

Neurological research for some time has shown that migraineurs are at an increased risk of developing vascular lesions in the brain and exhibit frequent changes in their cerebral white matter.

A recent study conducted by the University Hospital Graz, Austria took a look at the possibility that such striking change that occur in the migraineurs’ cerebral white matter was indeed going to lead to an earlier age-expected mental deterioration, at least for a significant percentage of the migraining population thus causing them compromising lifestyles and depending on care.

White matter makes up for a majority of brain mass in humans. It is a network of axons sheathed in white fat that renders conductivity of neural and electrical pulses. White matter is believed to be crucial for how the brain functions, for successful learning and for social behaviour.

The study took into its fold some 639 elderly with the average age of 74 years who had had some history of neurological conditions like migraines, cognitive or motor conditions and whose diagnosis was supported by an initial MRI scan and report. The assessment was carried out case by case on the basis of a comprehensive clinical, neuropsychological and functional protocol throughout the three year period. MRI scans were conducted at the start and at the end of the study. Both volume and extent of changes in the cerebral white matter was recorded.

The results showed that 16% of all subjects suffered from migraines out of which over 66% of migraineurs also experienced with aura; women were three times more likely than men in the same age group to suffer migraines though the severity and volume changes in brain were the same in both men and women.

According to leading author of the study, Prof Fazekas, “The welcome result of the study was this: We can say for elderly patients at least that their migraines do not increase the risk of vascular injuries in cerebral white matter. They are also not at risk of these pain attacks exacerbating vascular lesions in the brain.” (2)

However, in the follow-up examination after three years there was found to be no significant correlation between migraines and the progression of changes in white matter. No gender-specific differences were detected, either. In short, the assumed correlation between headaches and neurological changes was not confirmed. The correlation between migraines and changes in white matter is a specific phenomenon amongst affected younger people and presumably attributable to some other pathogenic mechanism.


  1. Image Credit: Photopin.com; Sticky note via Creative Commons; Web June 2013; http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4076/4883925774_fb796f0e6c.jpg
  2. Migraines Do Not Exacerbate Mental Deterioration; Medical News Today, MNT; Web June 2013; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/261713.php

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