Attentional Inhibition in Patients with Migraine

A study compared attentional inhibition in patients with migraine versus controls, measured as event-related potentials (ERPs) while performing a neuropsychological test.

“As a disorder of brain dysfunction, migraine has been associated with cognitive decline. However, no consistent results with respect to the attention function in migraineurs have been found, and the relationship between attentional inhibition and migraine is also unclear,” the researchers explained.

They enrolled 75 patients with migraine and 41 age-, gender-, and education-matched healthy controls. All participants performed the color-word Stroop task, in which they had to identify the color or name of a word by pressing a key on a keyboard with their index and middle fingers on both hands. Behavioral and ERP data were evaluated.

When evaluating the behavioral data, the researchers found that the migraine group had a longer reaction time. However, the groups did not differ in terms of Stroop effect.

When evaluating ERP, the migraine group had decreased early and late medial frontal negativity (MFN) amplitudes. There were also significant differences in early MFN and sustained potential amplitudes between patients with versus without allodynia.

The study was published in The Journal of Headache and Pain.

“In this study, declines in attentional inhibition functions at the electrophysiological level were found among migraine patients during the interictal phase, independent of compounding factors such as age and education. Such declines mainly focused on the conflict-monitoring stage, as migraine patients displayed an obvious difference in MFN amplitude compared to healthy controls,” the researchers wrote in their conclusion. “Our findings also have important implications for further studies of attentional evaluation in migraine and thus provide empirical support for clinical behavioral therapy.”