We investigate and characterize the magnetoencephalographic waveforms from patients during spontaneous and visually induced migraine aura. Direct current neuromagnetic fields were measured during spontaneous onset of migraine auras in 4 migraine patients, and compared with recordings from 8 migraine-with-aura patients and 6 normal controls during visual stimulation of the occipital cortex. Complex direct current magnetoencephalographic shifts, similar in waveform, were observed in spontaneous and visually induced migraine patients, but not in controls. Two-dimensional inverse imaging showed multiple cortical areas activated in spontaneous and visually induced migraine aura patients. In normal subjects, activation was only observed in the primary visual cortex. Results support a spreading, depression-like neuroelectric event occurring during migraine aura that can arise spontaneously or be visually triggered in widespread regions of hyperexcitable occipital cortex.